Nationwide single-use plastics ban pushed

In response to the growing issue of plastic pollution, House Deputy Minority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera has filed a bill calling for a national ban on single-use plastics.

House Bill (HB) 1038, introduced by Herrera, demands a comprehensive national ban on the use of numerous single-use plastic products that are harmful to the environment.

“By implementing a national policy against the use of single-use plastics, the state shall ensure the protection of the environment, prioritize the safety of its citizens, and promote sustainable development across all sectors,” Herrera pointed out.

HB 1038 includes a penalty provision against those who continue to use and manufacture single-use plastics after the grace period has expired.

The lawmaker cited a statement from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives in her measure’s explanatory note about the lack of a comprehensive national policy to regulate plastic bags.

Herrera drew attention to the inconsistent regulations adopted by various local government units, which can lead to penalties for residents unaware of what is legal in one place and illegal in another.

“It is of utmost importance to align policies across the country and to work together with industries in eliminating plastic pollution,” she stressed.

According to the 2015 report on plastic pollution by the Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, the Philippines was the third highest source of ocean plastic pollution, with an estimated 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste.

The United Nations, on the other hand, estimates that 80 percent of the world’s marine garbage comes from land-based sources, including trash driven into rivers and creeks by the wind.

Single-use plastics, also called disposable plastics, are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These include, among other things, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.

According to Herrera’s proposal, all single-use plastics must be banned nationwide within one year upon the effectiveness of the law. The government will also restrict how plastics are used in various businesses to protect the environment.

Businesses that continue to use single-use plastics after the permitted period will be fined P50,000 for the first offense, P100,000 and a six-month suspension of their business permission for the second offense, and a P200,000 fine and a one-year suspension of their business licenses.

Meanwhile, companies who continue to produce single-use plastics after the allotted time will be subject to fines of P100,000 for the first offense, P250,000 for the second offense, P350,000 for the third offense, and P350,000 for the termination of their business permits.

Single-use plastics importers, however, are subject to a P200,000 fine and a two-year suspension of their business licenses for the first offense. The Bureau of Customs will place the business on a blocklist for six months after the suspension is lifted.

A P400,000 fine and the cancellation of the importer’s business permits will be imposed for the second offense.

A transition program will also be implemented to assist all affected individuals and industries in implementing the ban.


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