Address plastic pollution now! New Administration challenged to Act on the Environment

July 5, 2022

Ban single-use plastic bags now! Earth Island Institute Philippines, a marine wildlife and environmental advocacy organization, challenged newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to ban single-use plastic bags in the whole country, in time for the celebration of International Plastic Bag Free Day. In his inaugural address, Marcos Jr. promised to address plastic pollution and climate change.

"While we acknowledge such statements, we would like to remind President Marcos Jr. that his promise will be seen as mere rhetoric until the Philippines adopts a clear plan to resolve plastic pollution in our country," said Robert Ray Medrano, Spokesperson of Earth Island Institute Philippines.

Failed Implementation

According to the group, prior administrations neglected to address the garbage situation, which is exacerbated by piling-up of pandemic-era waste materials. Almost two decades have passed since the enactment of Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Waste Management Act, which obliged the National Solid Waste Management Commission to develop policies but the agency is yet to identify which plastic materials should be banned. Proposed measures in Congress and the Senate include those that seek false solutions, such as waste-to-energy incineration and the watered-down Expanded Producers Responsibility Act, which has no specific mandate on how firms may reduce single-use plastic packaging. The group asserts that this situation is no longer acceptable, and if not properly handled, the country will certainly face the worst plastic pollution disaster in the near future.

The group further remarks that “the government should not ignore the issue of plastic pollution. President Marcos Jr. should immediately issue a ban on single-use plastics within his first 100 days.” A recent study revealed that the Philippines generates 2.7 billion plastic materials each year, with at least 20% of these ending up in our waterways and oceans, thereby causing floods and threatening fragile ecosystems. Seven of our major rivers discharge plastic into our oceans. Plastic ingestion is thus a leading cause of death in marine species such as whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Unfortunately, when these plastics break down into microscopic bits known as microplastics and are devoured by fish and other marine species, and hence, we may be unwittingly ingesting these too.

Finally, the group urged the public to protect the environment by keeping it clean and to hold corporations that harm the environment accountable. They advocate for the use of reusable containers rather than single-use plastics, which are harmful to the environment. Separating household waste, reusing and recycling, avoiding burning garbage, sharing unwanted goods and food, utilizing refills, supporting eco-friendly retailers, and participating in coastal clean-up efforts are among the steps ordinary citizens could do to help.

Statement by the Earth Island Institute Philippines