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Friday, September 22, 2023

Group urges Philipines president to ‘clean up‘, act urgently on plastic pollution

“Taking stock of President Marcos’ commitment to solving the Philippines’ problem with plastic pollution and climate change, we urge the President to take immediate concrete actions to end plastic pollution. We reiterate our call to ban single-use plastics,” says Reynaldo San Juan, Executive Director of BAN Toxics.

The Philippines
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines

During his inauguration a year ago, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. (commonly referred to as PBBM) said that he would prioritise the issue of climate change mitigation in his administration.

“Plastics are now ubiquitous in our natural environment, including the insidious microplastics, which our scientists have found to be present in Philippine ambient air. This is particularly concerning, given that there is limited knowledge about microplastics and the full extent of the impact on human health,” added San Juan.

The research conducted by Filipino scientists recently revealed the presence of microplastics in all 17 municipalities and cities in Metro Manila. A previous study similarly revealed the presence of microplastics in the surface water of five rivers draining to Manila Bay.

These microplastics can enter the human body through inhalation and absorption and accumulate in organs. The scientists view this issue as a ticking time bomb, requiring urgent and radical changes to address it.

“We commend the government for its proactive stance in collaborating with other countries to champion the launch of negotiations for a new global treaty to combat plastic pollution. BAN Toxics remains dedicated to supporting the government throughout these ongoing Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution negotiations, extending our assistance until the conclusion of 2024 and during the country’s own treaty-making processes.”

The group emphasised priority actions to be addressed ahead of Marcos’ State of the Nation Address.

It adds: “The need to promote sustainable production and consumption of plastics is urgent as the rate of plastic production has grown faster than any other materials. We have also seen the concerning shift towards single-use plastic products, items designed to be discarded after a single use.

“The government is a key actor in the plastics value chain and can eliminate the plastic products that we do not need. We strongly reiterate our plea to President Marcos for the immediate enactment of a national regulation to ban single-use plastics.

“The government can promote innovation ensuring that the plastics essential for us are designed and introduced into the economy with a focus on reusability. This can be achieved through minimum sustainability criteria, polymer and toxic additive restrictions, recycled content targets, common criteria for unnecessary, avoidable, and problematic plastics, and reuse and refill requirements.”

Moreover, BAN Toxics emphasises the urgency for President Marcos Jr. to safeguard the Philippines from becoming a dumping ground for first-world nations by promptly ratifying the long-delayed Basel Ban Amendment. This international treaty prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from the European Union, OECD, and Liechtenstein member states to less affluent countries, irrespective of whether it is intended for recycling or not.

The environmental justice group underscores the need for the government to prioritise environmental protection and public health.

“The longer we delay addressing these issues, the more vulnerable we become to the adverse impacts they bring,” San Juan said.

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