Kick the Plastic Habit – PH environmentalists urged

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THE Philippine based EcoWaste Coalition appealed to all Filipino consumers to kick “the plastic bag habit” in a bid reduce pollution in land and sea.

The coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, said everyone, from consumers, commercial establishments owners, school administrators, local governments executives and legislators nationwide; should take action against the “omnipresent plastic bags.”

“Plastic waste prevention and the genuine enforcement of best practices in ecological solid waste management sans incineration and open burning is the way to go to tackle the plastic scourge that has now become a global malady,” said Daniel Alejandre, EcoWaste Coalition’s Zero Waste campaigner.

Moreover, Alejandre said “We can reduce the amount of plastic garbage dumped into the oceans by taking decisive measures at various levels from voluntary lifestyle option as responsible consumers to mandatory legislation banning single-use plastic bags.”

Consumers should bring bayong and other reusable bags for their purchases to reduce the volume of plastics burned in dumpsites or thrown in waterways eventually ending up and polluting our rivers and seas, the group suggested, the coalition, which is a member of the “Break Free from Plastic Bag” movement, suggested.

It also said commercial establishments like shopping centers should initiate mall-wide programs to encourage retail shops, restaurants and other tenants to offer incentives for customers who will bring their own reusable containers and halt the practice of handing out free plastic or paper bags.

The coalition, at the same time, urged public and private schools to restrict the use of plastic bags, as well as other non-essential plastic products such as drinking straws, inside the school premises.

It also called on all local government units (LGUs) with existing plastic bag bans to strengthen the implementation of existing regulations and demanded those lagging behind to quickly adopt effective pro-environment and anti-plastic bag ordinances.

“It’s also high time for Congress to enact a comprehensive legislation that will ban single-use plastic bags to expand and support the initiatives of the local authorities to deal with the plastic mess,” Alejandre said.

All LGUs also need to fully enforce the waste prevention and reduction provisions of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Alejandre emphasized.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Solid Waste Management Commission should take the lead in implementing policies and programs in support of UNEA Resolution 2/11, he said.

UNEA, or the United Nations Environmental Assembly, in 2016 adopted a resolution on marine plastic litter and micro plastics “stressing that prevention and environmentally sound management of waste is key to long-term success in combating marine pollution” and “calling on member states to establish and implement necessary policies, regulatory frameworks and measures consistent with the waste hierarchy.”

Waste audits conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace and Mother Earth Foundation in Manila Bay indicated alarming quantities of plastic litter, particularly in the famed Manila Bay.

In July 2016, for instance, a waste audit conducted by EcoWaste Coalition’s partner groups at Freedom Island in Parañaque City collected 1,482 kilos of trash, 79 percent of which were assorted plastic materials, consisting of junk food wrappers and sachets (20 percent), plastic bags (17 percent), composite packaging (12 percent), food packaging (nine percent), polystyrene containers (seven percent), diaper liners (seven percent), hard plastics (four percent), drinking straw (one percent) and plastic twine (one percent).

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