October 2, 2023

Public interest groups from Baguio to Davao have joined the call to ban single-use plastics (SUPs) ahead of the resumption of session of the 18th Congress on Nov. 9.

The groups insisted that the country’s efforts to prevent and reduce plastic pollution need a national law banning SUPs and packaging with a clear-cut scope, phase-out deadline, compliance monitoring and fines and penalties, as well as provisions for the promotion of alternatives and the granting of incentives.

“Members of 18th Congress still have the opportunity before their term ends in 2022 to pass a law that will eliminate plastic pollution at source.  We urge our lawmakers to accelerate the process of banning the ubiquitous SUPs that can hugely boost the country’s shift to zero waste and to sustainability. This law can be your enduring environmental legacy,” said Patricia Nicdao, EcoWaste Coalition policy advocacy officer.

The enactment of the envisioned plastic pollution prevention law will benefit local government units and communities undertaking programs to reach progressive waste reduction targets within the framework of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. 

“A comprehensive ban on SUPs nationwide will surely help LGUs like Baguio City in further trimming down the volume of disposable plastics and packaging materials that make up most of the city’s residual garbage,” said Vicky Bautista of Zero Waste Baguio, Inc., noting that the country’s Summer Capital started enforcing its Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance in 2018 which, according to the City General Services Office, has resulted in a decrease of 30 percent in the city’s plastic waste. 

“A law phasing out all SUPs will be useful in avoiding loopholes in local ordinances that provide non-essential exemptions, especially when reusable alternatives are available,” said Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda, executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center based in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, citing the exceptions under Ordinance 993, or the Single-Use-Plastic and Styrofoam Regulation, which, for example, permits the use of Styrofoam for fish and the use of plastic utensils during birthday parties, wakes, and other occasions. The ordinance took effect in April this year.

“A national law banning SUPs will have a strong impact on local efforts to preserve and protect the natural environment, which is being damaged by throw-away plastic and products,” said Chinkie Peliño-Golle, executive director of Davao City-based Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, who lamented the incursion of garbage, mostly SUPs, on the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed, a prospective source of potable water for the flourishing city.

The push for a comprehensive national ban on single-use plastic products and packaging is backed by a variety of groups, including the Break Free From Plastic, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, Mother Earth Foundation, and Oceana Philippines,

Recently, close to 30 diverse groups urged the Cebu City government to totally ban SUPs, instead of merely putting up trash bins, to address the city’s perennial garbage and flood woes.

Zero waste advocacy groups will conduct a month-long digital campaign this month to garner more signatures for the online petition to ban SUPs and to raise critical awareness on false solutions to the plastic pollution crisis and the real culprits on why the planet is drowning on plastics. – Press release