MANILA, Philippines — Environment groups have challenged the Senate to urgently pass a measure that would regulate the production and use of single-use plastics, after the House of Representatives approved a counterpart bill last week.
House Bill No. 9147, or the Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation Act, sailed through the third and final reading on July 28, with 190 affirmative votes and no objections.
Environment groups called the approval of the House bill a critical “first step” in the right direction, particularly in curbing the country’s plastic pollution problem.
“This also sends a strong message to plastic manufacturers that they have a responsibility to significantly reduce their contribution to the plastics problem and transition to alternative delivery systems,” said Marian Ledesma, Greenpeace Philippines campaigner.
Following the bill’s approval, the Senate should respond with a version that promotes genuine solutions to plastic pollution, said environment and health watchdog Ecowaste Coalition.
Their counterpart measure, the group said, should not promote “dirty” solutions, such as incineration or the burning of wastes to be turned into energy.
Several bills on the regulation of single-use plastics have been filed in the Senate since 2019, Ecowaste said. None have moved beyond the committee level.
Data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, however, showed that at least 488 local governments have passed ordinances banning single-use plastics, the group added.
“We only have a few weeks left in the legislative calendar, and with the 2022 national elections fast approaching, we believe that now is the right time to pass the national regulation on single-use plastics,” said Coleen Salamat, Ecowaste’s campaigner.
“Our environment and communities cannot afford to go back to start with this bill in the new Congress,” she added.
During the Department of Science and Technology-hosted joint conference on Friday, upcycling surfaced as an accessible and implementable solution “while we are working on the other alternatives … especially for the sachet problem,” according to Jonathan Co of Sentinel Upcycling Technologies.
Co’s business is focused on manufacturing products made of single-use packaging waste transformed into durable materials, such as school and monobloc chairs.
Through the Pateros residents’ purchase of four upcycled sorting bins, a total of 1,200 pieces, or 2.4 kilograms, of single-use plastic sachets were kept away from polluting oceans and landfills.
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