Microplastics in the environment, health risk: more reasons to ban single-use plastics—Oceana
Press Release Date: June 6, 2023
Oceana reiterates its call to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Solid Waste Commission (NSWMC) to ban single-use plastics as mandated by Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000), in view of recent studies confirming the presence of microplastics in the environment.
“We urge the Philippine government to once and for all resolve the plastic pollution crisis in the Philippines. They had the chance to turn off the tap and avoid the onslaught of plastics and microplastics in the air and in the ocean more than 20 years ago, but they reneged on their mandate under the law to ban single-use plastics,” said Atty. Rose Liza Eisma-Osorio, Oceana Acting Vice President and Legal and Policy Director.
Oceana said a recently published scientific report found the presence of microplastics in the ambient air in Metro Manila that should direct the DENR, NSWMC and the Department of Health (DOH) to move swiftly to prevent further damage on the health and well-being of the people.
“Microplastics are in the air we breathe and, in the soil, freshwater, and our seas. Our exposure to the dangers brought about by plastic pollution cannot be overemphasized. Plastic is an escalating crisis for the environment, health, and climate. If we don’t act now to mitigate its impacts, when will the government move? Banning single-use plastics with utmost sense of urgency is a must now more than ever!” said Osorio.
The government’s own study confirmed the presence of microplastics in major water bodies in the country. The study conducted by the DENR Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) found microplastics in all 10 study sites, with Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS), the country’s largest protected seascape and major fishing ground topping the list as having the highest density. The other marine protected areas, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve (TINMR) and Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) were also found to have microplastics.
ERDB’s recommendation calls for a follow-up study that describes the quantities of microplastics in the tissues of corals and other commercially important species. It concluded that particles ingested by marine organisms during feeding can lead to human consumption of microplastics through contaminated marine animals.
“Studies on plastics leaking into the ocean that pose alarming risks on the food we eat are among the reasons we challenge the government to do its job. Plastics disintegrate into microplastics that can accumulate in the food we eat, in the water we drink, and in the air we breathe. Sea animals die due to ingestion and entanglement, and this will negatively affect the biodiversity and healthful ecological balance of our marine environment. Imagine the danger we face now! As the situation worsens due to government’s failure of governance, our children and the future generation will suffer,” explained Osorio.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released its report, Turn Off the Tap: How the World Can End Plastic Pollution and Create a Circular Economy, that provides a “compass” for governments and an action plan for businesses to end plastic pollution by 2040.
Osorio said the Philippines could have started the move to turn away from plastic two decades ago when it passed a very progressive law in RA 9003 in 2000. “This should have paved the way for the ban of manufacturing, importation, distribution, use and post-use of single-use plastic in the country,” she added.
Section 29 of the law prescribes that within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, the NSWMC shall, after public notice and hearing, prepare a list of Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products which shall be prohibited. The list of products must be annually updated by the NSWMC.
Section 30 defines the prohibition on the Use of Non-Environmentally Acceptable Packaging in that, ‘no person owning, operating or conducting a commercial establishment in the country shall sell or convey at retail or possess with the intent to sell or convey at retail any products that are placed, wrapped or packaged in or on packaging which is not environmentally acceptable packaging’.
Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk, and other stakeholders to restore the abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources. (END)
For More Information:
Joyce Sierra, Communications Manager, Oceana
Mobile: 09178214430 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org