President Rodrigo Duterte is considering banning the use of plastic to protect the environment, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte floated the need for a measure to implement a plastic ban during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Panelo added that the President recognized the need for Congress to pass a legislation banning the use of plastic products.
“The President floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said the idea of banning plastic was raised after Vernice Victorio, president and chief executive officer the Natural Resources Development Corp., shared with the Cabinet the priority programs for environment and climate change resiliency.
The state corporation is attached with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Thursday confirmed that the ban on plastic was discussed during the Cabinet meeting.
“The President has become more conscious of climate change,” Pernia said.
“There’s so many plastic waste in Manila Bay. This is still a discussion, no policy yet,” he added.
A measure seeking a ban on single-use plastics is pending in Congress.
Authored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Senate Bill 40 or the “Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act of 2019” aims to ban the importation, manufacture and use of single-use plastics.
The bill proposes incentives for consumers who bring reusable containers or those who reuse or recycle plastic products.
Single-use plastic products include items such as grocery bags, food packaging, films and bags, water bottles, straws, stirrers, containers, styrofoam, cups, sachets and plastic cutlery.
Recently, Duterte called on Southeast Asian countries not to sacrifice the environment for economic development in the region.
Speaking at a Special Lunch on Sustainable Development held on the fringe of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Thailand last week, the President scored developed countries for shipping garbage marked as “recyclables” to Asian countries, particularly to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
He called for intensified regional cooperation in protecting the environment and fighting pollution in the ocean.
“We must work together to address the problem of marine debris. And we must build resilient and stronger communities to adapt to the effects of climate change,” Duterte said.
A study on the country’s pollution problem by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives revealed that around 59.8 billion pieces of plastic sachets are used by Filipinos a year.
The report also showed that more than 17 billion shopping bags are used across the country every year. The use of smaller, thinner and often transparent plastic bags is at 16.5 billion.
Filipinos also discard 1.1 billion diapers per year.
With a reports from Anna Leah E. Gonzales