Manufacturers seek delay in plastics ban

November 4, 2011 at 10:47

A confederation of plastic manufacturing companies has asked the Senate to wait for the results of a study on the actual environmental impact of their products before passing a law banning the use of plastic bags in the country.

In a position paper submitted to the Upper House, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the 180-member Philippine Plastics Industry Association based in Caloocan City requested legislators to hold their judgement while technical studies on the repercussions of plastic products on the environment are undertaken by the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

The 10-page position paper was in response to Senate moves to pass a law that bans the use of plastic in the country.

In August, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading HB 4840, or the Plastic Bag Regulation Act of 2011, which seeks to prohibit the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags.

According to the manufacturing group, a “fact-based scientific approach” using a life-cycle analysis was necessary in the evaluation of plastic since any regulation or ban on the products would have “outstanding repercussions.”

It said that among these was the “displacement of (the plastic) labor force,” which, should it occur, would be contrary to “the nation’s objective of providing much-needed jobs… to address increasing unemployment and underemployment.”

The PPIA estimates 175,000 people are working in the plastic manufacturing industry, and pegs the number of local plastic manufacturers and processors at 300, most of which, it said, were small- and medium-scale enterprises.

“Industry calls on stakeholders to await the result of deliberations… to determine (plastic’s) environmental impact,” the position paper read.

Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the NSWMC is mandated to evaluate products or packaging that are perceived to be “unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or to produce or release harmful byproducts when discarded.”

Plastics packaging—plastic bags included—are among the products to undergo an assessment by a technical working committee headed by the Department of Science and Technology through the NSWMC, which, under the law, will also determine if the products should be prohibited, the group said.

In addition to this, the PPIA said the shift to reusable materials as alternatives to plastic bags should also be “carefully studied” since the former may in the end also pose threats to the environment and to the public’s health.

Shifting to (reusable materials) may pose health risks (if improperly washed or cleaned)… (and pose a threat to our waterways) if discharged, the group said.

By: Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 2, 2011
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