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We're so plastic.

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2019 - 12:00am Yes, we Filipinos are so plastic! The worst part of it is it generates billions of plastic pollutants making us No. 3 violator in the region.

GAIA, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, recently did a study that was so disturbing the mainstream media reportedly did not carry the story. Here's some of the shocking information about plastic pollution and the impact of sachet packaging of consumer products: Filipinos throw away 164 MILLION pieces of sachet packets daily.

In one year or annually, estimates indicate that around 59.8 BILLION sachets are used ndash sold ndash discarded in the Philippines. On the average adult Filipinos each uses 591 pieces of sachet products a year, 174 plastic shopping bags, and 163 plastic "Labo" bags often used to wrap cooked food, wet market products or meats.

57 MILLION plastic bags are used daily (20.6 BILLION annually), while the use of plastic "Labo" bags is at 45.2 MILLION per day (16.5 BILLION pieces annually) most of which are thrown into garbage dumps or end up in canals, waterways and the sea. In addition, Filipinos with infants and toddlers discard around three million diapers daily or 1.

1 BILLION diapers every year. The report does not even mention the volume and impact of plastic drinking cups and utensils often provided and discarded by thousands of fast food chains and fresh fruits and taho vendors all over the Philippines! The study either failed to mention or did not include PET bottles in the 350 ml to the 500 ml that are the most common and most discarded type of plastic containers used by water, soft drinks and juice manufacturers.

An additional finding of our research team for AGENDA on Cignal TV cited a 2015 report on plastic pollution by the Ocean Conservancy Charity and the Mckinsey Centre for Business and Environment ranked the Philippines as the third largest source of discarded plastic that end up in the ocean behind two other Asian nations: China and Indonesia. Sadly it seems that any and all laws submitted to Congress and the Senate have either disappeared, buried in the cemetery of unwelcomed bills or efficiently discarded by members of Congress who are either in the plastics business, support corporations heavily invested or engaged in sachet packaging or single use plastics.

A panelist lamented the fact that when the results of the study on plastic pollution were shared with the media not a single outfit picked up the data or has shown concern for plastic pollution probably because many of the manufacturers of plastic packaging are advertisers or sponsors of media outfits. The lone figure whom environmentalists praised for consistently pushing anti-pollution bills was Senator Loren Legarda who's proposed bill to ban single use plastic languishes in Congress.

The Mother Earth Foundation and Greenpeace South East Asia also emphasized the absence, as well as the need for a national policy on single use plastic, the need for such products to be biodegradable as well as its proper disposal. The GAIA study reportedly conducted a sampling of several study sites where plastic pollutants or non-recyclable or non-biodegradable packaging were gathered, identified the trash by manufacturer's name and logged them down.

This resulted in a finding where 10 major companies were tagged as the source or manufacturer of 60 percent of waste materials found in the study sites. Panelists discussing plastic pollution also pointed out that the so-called remedies or recycling ideas for plastic wastes are either ineffective or more of novelty than real solutions such as plastic bricks or filling plastic bottles with waste plastics and embedding them to make concrete walls have more wow than popularity of use.

Chipping plastic bottles and debris and melting them and using the molten plastic to make school chairs on the other hand turns out to be time and energy consuming because of the chipping and melting process where you only produce five chairs in one day. Many people agree that a ban on single use plastic and drastic reduction on sachet product packaging is the best solution and is urgently needed.

Even some expat senior executives have privately expressed that the sachet pollution is so bad it has reached even the most isolated places in the country. But in order to orchestrate a pullout, Congress and the government need to put down the law banning the top ten or primary samples of plastic pollutants specifically sachet packaging.

The manufacturers would then have an excuse to stop sachet marketing and would benefit by returning to bigger sizes and volumes, while putting an end to pollutants at source. If all this happens, we might end up really practicing genuine recycling like the good old days when Nescafe and Cafe Puro competed by selling coffee in much sought after glass jars or containers.

Instead of being polluters, companies like Coke can go back to their glass bottles that we can buy, pay deposit on the bottle and recreate the "Diaryo ndash Bote" livelihood for the people living below the poverty line. If all else fails we at AGENDA suggested that the unified groups of environmentalists should launch their "InFamous Awards Night" as a take off from the FAMAS awards, and give out awards to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly corporations, individuals who are the source, champion or promoters of plastic pollution and a medal of honor for those who have done a lot to reduce plastic pollution.

Whatever we do, we need to put an end to our "Ka-Plastikan" or sachet mentality because it has become the country's seal of poverty with vendors saying, Filipinos can't afford anything more! That is sick! We can afford better and we deserve better! Email:
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Mar 12, 2019
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