DENR calls for concerted efforts vs plastic waste

MANDAUE. At least two trucks of trash, particularly plastic waste, are collected in the Mahiga Creek in Barangay Subangdaku per week during its weekly cleanup drive.
MANDAUE. At least two trucks of trash, particularly plastic waste, are collected in the Mahiga Creek in Barangay Subangdaku per week during its weekly cleanup drive. Photo courtesy of Subangdaku Barangay Captain Ernie Manatad

DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga reiterated on Monday, April 22, 2024, the urgent need to spread awareness on the indestructibility of plastics and the environmental impact of plastic pollution.

In a statement for Earth Day 2024 with the theme Planet vs Plastics, Loyzaga noted the hazards posed by plastics to human health and the ecosystem.

She said that in a year, the Philippines produces around 2.7 million tons of plastic waste in which most end up in landfills, dumpsites, rivers and water supply systems.

Loyzaga noted that 20 percent of the country’s plastic waste ends up in the oceans.

On top of the country’s organic waste, plastic for market needs, food wrapping and packaging for consumers make up 61,000 metric tons of solid waste on a daily basis.

“When the rains come, we are literally swimming in them (plastic),” said Loyzaga.

“But on a daily basis, we consume plastics in the fish caught in our seas, through the substandard water bottles we use and in the very air we breathe. Microplastics have been found in raindrops and are being studied for their impact on clouds and climate change,” she added.

Loyzaga educated the public that plastics have traditionally been made from oil, natural gas, or coal, the very fossil fuel sources that have driven climate change.

She also noted that the Philippines loses around US$890 million each year because recyclable plastic is being thrown away instead of repurposing it.

The DENR secretary said one of the measures the government impose to address concerns on plastic waste include the passage of the Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2022, or the EPR Law, which shifted the burden of collecting used plastic from the local government to the producers and manufacturers themselves.

Loyzaga said over 800 large-scale companies have registered and committed to reducing plastic use through the substitution and development of sustainable packaging solutions, and collection, treatment, and recycling initiatives.

She said these companies have also committed to education and raising awareness of the environmental impact of plastic pollution.

“But the government and the corporations cannot do it alone. Transformation towards a plastics-free world begins at home. Experts and universities must also do their share. Sustainable and affordable alternatives must be found along with changes in production and consumption. In developing countries like ours, solid waste management is an informal industry. The welfare of waste workers must also be part of a just transition that leaves no one behind,” said Loyzaga.

“Together, we can win this battle of planet vs. plastics. Every step we take counts, and we will need to work as one. It is our choice to act today or let our plastic waste determine our tomorrow. Earth Day must be every day. We will fight to win the war of Planet vs. Plastics,” she added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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