Industry promotes reusables instead of single-use plastic

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    Single use plastic faces stricter regulations.

    In response, the industry points to responsible ways to use and dispose plastic.

    The 200-member Philippine Plastics Industry Association (PPIA) is for voluntary reduction as well as the promotion and adoption of reusable bags, Vicente Co Lee, president of PPIA, said in a forum.

    The term “single use” plastic is mentioned for the first time in several bills before the current 18th Congress, Lee noted.

    In a bill before the Senate by Senator Cynthia Villar, single use plastic includes grocery bags, food packaging films, bottles, straws, stirrers, container, styrofoam, cups, sachets and cutlery.

    Bills filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives mention the single use term, with similar provisions in various forms.

    “Filipinos use 163 million sachets and 3 million diapers every day,” Lee said.

    These “single use” products are made of plastic materials, and several bills before Congress propose regulations over what is perceived as major contributors to plastic pollution.

    Plastic bags, containers and other single use items are blamed for land and marine pollution. One fear is that very minute plastic components end up in the food chain.

    Bangladesh banned single use plastic in 2002. Some 27 countries tax the production of plastic bags while others either ban or restrict the use of plastic straws, dishware and similar products.

    According to the United Nations, the most common single use plastics found in the environment are, in order of magnitude, cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, lids, straws and stirrers.

    The UN Environment Program (UNEP) estimated that only 9 percent of 9 billion tons of plastic the world has produced has been recycled. If current consumption patterns and waste management practices continue, there will be about 12 billion tons of plastic litter in landfills and the environment by 2050, the UNEP said.

    Most plastics don’t biodegrade and instead slowly break down into small fragments called microplastics.

    UNEP said plastic waste causes problems when it leaks into the environment. Plastic bags can block waterways and worsen floods. Clogged sewers provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes that cause dengue fever and malaria.

    “There is evidence that the toxic chemicals added during the manufacture of plastic transfer to animal tissue, eventually entering the human food chain,” according to a UNEP roadmap on single use plastics, adding that products which contain cancer-causing chemicals are “highly toxic” when ingested, damaging the nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs. The toxins can leach into food and drinks.