MANILA (UPDATE) - The House of Representatives approved on final reading a measure that seeks to gradually phase out the production, sale, and use of single-use plastics.
Voting 190-0-1, lawmakers in the lower chamber agreed to pass House Bill No. 9147 or the proposed “Single-use Plastic Products Regulation Act."
The measure seeks to protect life on land and water from hazards posed by plastic pollution, prolong the service life of sanitary landfills, and to discourage the consumption of single-use plastic products.
It primarily targets getting rid of, within a year, the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, and use of single-use plastic drinking straws, stirrers, candy sticks, balloon sticks, cotton bud sticks, buntings, confetti, and packaging less than 10 microns thick, among others.
It also wants to phase out, within 4 years, the following single-use plastic items:
- film wrap
- packaging or bags less than 50 microns thick
- oxo-degradable plastics
- styropor food and beverage containers
A study in April this year found that the Philippines contributed 36 percent of the plastic waste that ended up in the world's oceans, with the Pasig River also being identified as the top plastic pollution source.
Seven of the 10 rivers that contributed plastic pollution in the world's oceans are located in the country, it showed.
The Climate Change Commission described the findings as an "extreme concern" in terms of how plastic waste are being managed in the Philippines.
GREENPEACE LAUDS DEVELOPMENT
Environmental group Greenpeace hailed the passing of the proposed measure in the lower chamber, adding that it is an "important" development in the fight against the country's plastic problem.
In a statement sent Thursday, they also urged the Senate to pass a "stronger" counterpart bill.
"This is a timely response to the urgency to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic items and curb the impacts and injustices stemming from plastic’s entire lifecycle," Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said.
"This... 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," Ledesma added.
According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific, some 164 million sachets are used and thrown away each day by Filipinos, or 59.8 billion per year, a report they released has shown.
Retail or "tingi" is a way of life for poor Filipinos who only have funds for single-use quantities.
The World Bank earlier this year urged the Philippine government to work with the private sector and other stakeholders to unlock the potential of up to $1.1 billion or P53.4 billion per year in material value from recycling plastics.
A Social Weather Stations survey released last year showed that a majority or 7 out of 10 Filipinos favor a national ban on single-use plastics.
— Reports from RG Cruz, Job Manahan, and Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News