AS CONSUMER giants Coca-Cola and Carlsberg recently announced the switch to plant-based plastics that break down within a year, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan encourages local manufacturers to follow suit.
“Magandang opportunity itong pandemya dahil sobrang dami ng mga nagpapa-take-out o nagpapadeliver. Kung merong biodegradable alternatives, tiyak na magiging matagumpay ito,” he said.
Pangilinan noted that his Senate Bill 40, which seeks to ban the use, manufacture, and importation of single-use plastic, also encourages the research and development of biodegradable alternatives, and incentivizes individuals and groups, including businesses, that manufacture these alternatives.
Pangilinan’s Single-Use Plastics Bill lists incentives for biodegradable manufacturing to include those in the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008, the Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise Act of 2002, the Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987, or the Green Jobs Act of 2016.
The bill, which also provides government technical and financial assistance to such manufacturers, is currently pending with the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change.
From the demand side, Pangilinan encourages the consuming public to reduce single-use plastics.
“Isama natin sa ating mga New Year’s resolution ang pag-iwas sa paggamit ng mga single-use plastic. Meron ngang nag-o-order sa McDo na may dala ng sarili niyang lalagyan. Baka pwedeng ugaliin na rin natin na magdala ng sariling lalagyan sa mga food takeout,” Pangilinan said.
“Pag makakabuti sa health ng ating environment, makakabuti rin sa health natin ito,” he added.
According to a 2015 study by the United Nations Environment Programme, Filipinos produce about 6.2 million kilos of plastic waste (equivalent to over a thousand 6,000-kilo elephants) every single day, 81% of which are mismanaged and end up in the ocean.
For an archipelago like the Philippines, where seafood is a major source of food, this can mean that microplastics can enter our bodies through the seafood that we eat.
Scientists already have found microplastics in fish, shellfish, sea salt, chickens, and even in honey and beer.
Over time, these may lead to serious health hazards.
From the regulation side, Pangilinan also reiterated his call for Malacañang to certify as urgent his Senate Bill 40 on the ban on single-use plastics.
Major global companies are joining the movement in reducing plastic pollution and are switching to sustainable plant-based bottles for packaging.
Coca-Cola and Carlsberg plan to use fully recyclable bottles made from degradable plant sugars and wood fibers rather than fossil fuels.
“Dito sa atin, kailangan na lang may mag-invest sa pag-manufacture ng containers na gawa sa buko, nanalo itong entry sa isang international science fair. At pwede ring gamitin ang seaweeds na ginagamit na sa mga medicine capsules,” Pangilinan said.
“Sa paggamit ng ganitong mga innovation, masisiguro natin ang isang malinis at malusog na Earth para ating mga anak,” he added.
This push toward eliminating single-use plastics continues last year’s momentum to begin reducing plastic straw use in many countries and corporations around the globe.
“Kahit hindi pa batas ang Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act of 2019, marami na tayong pwedeng gawing mga simpleng bagay para sa kalikasan. Gumamit tayo ng mga alternatibo kagaya ng mga eco bag at i-recycle din natin and mga plastic sa tahanan tulad ng bote ng shampoo at softdrinks na maaring taniman ng halaman. Ugaliing magdala ng tumbler para sa tubig imbes na bumili ng bottled water. Nakatipid ka na, nakatulong ka pa sa kalikasan,” Pangilinan said.
“Gusto nating ma-experience pa ng mga anak natin ang magagandang beaches ng Pilipinas,” he added.