NGOs claim no action on expanding banned plastics list

MARINE CONSERVATION group Oceana Philippines said Monday it has received no response from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) on its queries regarding the expansion of a list of single-use plastic products to be banned in order to preserve the waterways.

Civil society groups, including Oceana, had earlier announced plans to press charges against the NSWMC and other government agencies, alleging “inaction” in preparing the Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products and Packaging (NEAPP) list.

“More than two weeks have passed (since we issued the notices to sue), and we are still waiting for the responses of the government agencies. If they do not provide the necessary mandated action to mitigate this huge problem of plastic pollution, then we will pursue all available legal remedies as provided for by the constitution and the various laws in the country,” Oceana Vice-President Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said in a statement on Monday.

Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, the commission is required to release the list within a year of the law’s effectivity, and provide annual updates.

Products listed under the NEAPP, which are considered harmful for the environment, cannot be manufactured, distributed and used.

In February, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said that the NSWMC approved a resolution identifying plastic straws and coffee stirrers as the first two products to be included in the NEAPP, adding that these “may be banned soon.”

“We must do our part to help in rapidly reducing the use of plastics to address what is already an escalating problem of pandemic proportions,” Ms. Ramos said Monday.

BusinessWorld asked the NSWMC to comment, but it had not replied at the deadline.

The Philippines produces an estimated 164 million sachets, 48 million shopping bags, and 45.2 million so-called “labo” bags, which are transparent and come in rolls, according to a 2019 waste assessment brand audit report by the Global Alliance for Incinerators Alternatives. — Angelica Y. Yang