Legarda urges youth to take part in addressing plastic crisis in PH

April 21, 2023

As the Philippines joins the celebration of Earth Day, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda called on to all Filipino youths for their continued cooperation in addressing the alarming “plastic crisis” that the nation is experiencing amidst its threats to the environment.

This appeal comes after Legarda expressed concern over the frequent inclusion of the Philippines in the list of the highest plastic-polluting countries across the globe over the past years.

“Plastics, especially single-use plastics, are a concern for us Filipinos. Not only do we have a massive plastic consumption problem but also a massive pollution problem due to the amount of mismanaged plastic waste that leaks into our open environment,” Legarda remarked as she keynoted the Plastic-Free Future Youth Forum in Quezon City on Friday.

With the magnitude of the country’s plastic situation, Legarda attributed these problems to the decades-use of ‘sachet and tingi economy’, as well as the throw-away culture of plastic labo and sando bags, which according to her contributed immensely to the mess.

The four-term senator, as a staunch advocate for the environment, reiterated that laws and regulations must be enforced in order to address the growing number of hazards of these problems to the health and environment.

Among these include the Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which she authored and principally sponsored in 2001. Since then, it was considered as one of the landmark environmental laws in the country as this strived to manage all solid waste down to the barangay levels. It required waste segregation, provided guidelines on waste collection and disposal, among others.

Since it was passed two decades ago, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) issued Resolution No. 1428, that categorized various plastics like softdrink straws and coffee stirrers, under the list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP).

However, Legarda said that the guidelines indicated in the resolution, including specifications and phase-out period of the said products, are yet to be issued.

“The NEAP list could have stymied the rise of plastic consumption and waste and could have also given rise to more sustainable alternative products and systems earlier on. This would have prepared us to better manage our plastic waste during the pandemic, which has drastically increased our consumption of single-use plastics due to online shopping and deliveries,” she conveyed.

Legarda also pushed for the passage of Senate Bill. No. 245 or the Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act.

It aims to regulate the manufacturing, importation and use of single-used products by providing penalties and incentives for industries and consumers, as well as support the development and use of more eco-friendly products and packaging.

“And I know that as I continue to push for this measure, I will be supported by my friends from Greenpeace Philippines, the Climate Change Commission, and many more organizations that also work on the same cause. I recognize also that there are already 488 local government units (LGUs) that have issued ordinances on plastics regulation, and it is high time that a national policy must be put in place,” she said.

Likewise, Legarda renewed her call to ‘turn-off the plastic faucet’ and rethink approaches to governance, market systems and operations, saying that Filipinos should correct own behavior and mindset by adopting more sustainable practices.

“We need to sustain this growing movement on sustainability by improving our policies, developing innovations from all sectors, and opening more spaces where citizens can support and take lead in addressing single-use plastics. The Earth will not heal on its own without any effort on our part,” Legarda stated. (end)