Climate body: Ban on single-use plastics needed to achieve “1.5 °C world,” reduce carbon footprint

March 02, 2021 Tuesday


An approximately four-hectare open dumpsite in Barangay San Nicolas, Sta. Ana, Pampanga was closed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on February 5, 2021 for violating the RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and the RA 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999. Photo from the Facebook page of DENR.


MANILA, 2 March 2021 — The Climate Change Commission (CCC) emphasized the need for a single-use plastics ban if the world is to remain within the 1.5° Celsius limit and prevent the worst of climate change impacts as a Technical Working Group of the House of Representatives Committee on Ecology chaired by Rep. Francisco "Kiko" Benitez moves to consolidate and finalize bills seeking to phase-out or regulate single-use plastics.

The CCC, led by its Chairperson-designate Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, has said that it is aligned with the aims of the bill “to advance realistic solutions to address the challenge of single-use plastics pollution and provide a clear pathway for the pursuit of sustainable consumption and production.”

In its submission to the Committee, the CCC said that “a single-use plastics ban is a necessary key step towards achieving a '1.5°C world.' This is the global warming threshold at which vulnerable countries like the Philippines can survive climate impacts. The proposed measure will help create a fundamental shift in the way we deliver on socioeconomic needs, whereby we can promote a cleaner environment, reduce flooding as we are a typhoon-prone country, and mitigate carbon emissions from plastics production."

A Roadmap for Sustainability on Single-Use Plastics by the United Nations Environment Programme warns that the world’s capacity to cope with plastic waste has already been overwhelmed. With only 9% of the world’s plastic waste being recycled and the rest ending up in landfills, dumps, or in the environment, the report estimates that there will be 12 billion tons of plastic litter in landfills and the environment by 2050. Aside from the environmental impact, the UN also warns of the numerous health problems and vast economic damage caused by plastic waste.

On Monday, the House TWG on its fourth meeting completed a run-through of its draft bill with stakeholders from industry, environmental groups and experts, academia, government, and civil society. Among the provisions discussed during the meeting was the proposed provision on Extended Producers' Responsibility or EPR authored by Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, which will hold producers responsible for collecting and recycling the amount of plastic that they produce and introduce into the market.

“Mandatory EPR will be complementary to a ban on single use plastics as a long-term regulatory measure. It will reduce the amount of packaging lingering in the environment, foster business responsibility, and stimulate the recycling sector, as found in the UN report," the CCC said.

The fourth TWG meeting also touched on other solutions needed to solve the problem of plastic waste, including the need to improve solid waste management, invest in the country’s recycling infrastructure, and intervene in e-commerce especially as the lockdowns due to the pandemic are seen to increase the use of unnecessary plastic.

“It requires more than a single type of solution. This is such a comprehensive and lifestyle issue that is a consequence of our own industrial processes for the last 200 years,” said Rep. Benitez.

UN Environment’s roadmap similarly notes a broad range of actions that must be taken by stakeholders beyond bans and levies on single-use plastics, including the need to improve waste management practices; provide financial incentives to change the habits of consumers, retailers, and manufacturers; accelerate a more circular model of plastics design and production; finance research and the development of alternative materials; and raise awareness.

“A national law regulating single-use plastics will serve as an overarching framework and a unified policy to strengthen the impact of existing local ordinances that currently ban or regulate single-use plastics across an estimated 480 provinces, cities, and municipalities,” the CCC noted.