Groups seek to sue solid waste management commission

(Philstar.com) – June 29, 2021 – 9:06 am

MANILA, Philippines – Civil society groups have sent notices to the National Solid Waste Management Commission and government agencies that they could face legal action for failing to address the country’s plastic pollution problem.

Organizations led by marine conservation group Oceana said this was the first step in forcing the commission and representatives of its member agencies to implement Republic Law 9003, or the Management Law. ecological solid waste.

Under two-decade-old law, the NSWMC is mandated to prepare a list of environmentally unacceptable products within one year of the law coming into force and to update the list each time. year.

“We can no longer stand the inaction of the NSWMC which has failed to implement its mandated task of preparing a list of environmentally unacceptable products and packaging (NEAPP),” said the vice-president. President of Oceana, Gloria Estenzo Ramos.

“Their carelessness for 20 long years is far too deplorable and inexcusable. The groups believe it is time to intervene and take the necessary measures on this issue, ”added Ramos, an environmental lawyer.

The Commission welcomes the pending lawsuit

Under Secretary of the Environment Benny Antiporda, who is the acting chairman of the NSWMC, praised the move because “it will serve as a motivation for all the officials and people who are really serious about solving the solid waste problem in the country. , especially when it comes to plastics.

Notices were sent to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who chairs the commission, as well as to heads of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Works and Highways, Ministry of Agriculture and Metro Manila. Development Authority.

Ramos said that while the responses from members of the commission are not encouraging, “we will have to proceed and use the legal remedies available under the Constitution and various laws.”

So far, straws and agitators

In February, 20 years after the Green Solid Waste Management Act came into effect, the commission included the first items on the list: plastic soda straws and coffee stirrers. However, the resolution has not yet been fully signed.

Antiporda said there was a letter from DOST recommending “a more holistic approach in developing policies regarding the PNAE”.

Groups said banning straws and shakers was not enough and called for the inclusion of plastic cutlery, lab bags, bottles, cups, plates, take-out containers and polystyrene food containers on the list.

Antiporda said plastic cutlery and “lab” plastic bags were among the items returned to DOST for review “so that we can make a decision on the said list”.

Earlier this month, House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda tabled a resolution to investigate and audit the NSWMC for the delay in implementing the NEAP list.

According to a 2015 study by the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, the Philippines produced 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste.

A report from the Global Alliance for Incinerators Alternatives released in 2019 found that Filipinos were throwing away around 164 million sachets, 57 million shopping bags and 45.2 million lab bags every day. – Gaea Katreena Cabico

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