Editorial: Dilemma on plastic problem

IN RECENT months we have seen how the campaign against single-use plastics is gaining ground. The campaign is spearheaded by environmental groups in the hopes to reduce the waste pollution around us.

This campaign has resulted to a number of positive developments with some local government units, establishments, and institutions banning the single-use plastics.

Here in Davao City, the city council has started to craft an ordinance against the use of single-use plastics.

Davao City Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr. said they are currently working on a feasibility study for the crafting of an ordinance on the banning of single-use plastics.

“Karon nagabuhat ta’g study group sa feasibility study kabahin sa (pag-ban sa) single-use plastic. Gusto unta namo study-han kung pwede ba dili lang single-use plastics ang ato i-ban, kon dili tanang porma sa plastics (We created a group that will conduct the feasibility study of the banning of the single-use plastic. We will also study if we could also include banning other forms of plastics),” Mahipus, who chairs the committee on environment and natural resources, said.

The idea on banning the use of single-use plastics is noble. There is a need to protect the environment and for us to reduce the wastes making its way to the seas and the forests.

However, we have to look at things objectively here. There is a dilemma for this campaign. Plastics, which have become a monster to the environment, are something the human race is very dependent upon especially as a material for packaging.

According to a study by the Elle MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum entitled “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics”, the use of plastic packaging is still the largest application of plastic.

“Plastic packaging not only delivers direct economic benefits, but can also contribute to increased levels of resource productivity — for instance, plastic packaging can reduce food waste by extending shelf life and can reduce fuel consumption for transportation by bringing packaging weight down,” the study states.

The study also states this dependency on plastics also have its drawbacks. One clear drawback is the amount of plastics making its way to the ocean.

“At least 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean each year -- which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean per minute,” the study states.

Our dependency on plastic is an almost impossible obstacle to the campaign against the banning of single-use plastics. At present, it seems like there are no alternatives that can match the versatility of the plastic.

However, this also does not mean that we should allow its continuous use. While our scientists look for alternatives that will be as versatile as plastic but at the same time environmentally friendly, let us do our very best as individuals to reduce our dependency on it as much as possible. This could mean bringing an ecobag when we go grocery shopping, having a tumbler on hand to avoid buying plastic bottles, or using reusable straws instead of plastic straws.


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