Cimatu-led NSWMC bans "unnecessary" single-use plastics in all gov’t offices nationwide

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), chaired by Secretary Roy A. Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has approved a resolution imposing a ban on single-use plastics in all government offices all over the country.

NSWMC Resolution No. 1363, Series of 2020, which was recently signed by Cimatu, directs the DENR to “prepare and implement” the ban on the use of “unnecessary” single-use plastic products by national government agencies, local government units (LGUs), and all other government-controlled offices.

The plastic products covered by the ban are cups less than 0.2 millimeter in thickness, drinking straws, coffee stirrers, spoons, forks, knives, “labo” or thin and translucent plastic bags, and thin-filmed sando bags lower than 15 microns.

“The NSWMC resolution is a major step to curb the use of single-use plastic items that pollute our waterways, kill marine life and contribute to our country’s increasing solid waste,” Cimatu pointed out.

Cimatu said the DENR will come up with specific guidelines for the implementation of the plastics ban, which forms part of the government’s “solid waste avoidance and minimization strategy.”

The United Nations has estimated that land-based sources, including plastic waste that has been blown into rivers and creeks by wind, are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s marine debris.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGUs Concerns Benny D. Antiporda, meanwhile, defended the NSWMC for initially including only eight single-use plastic items in the ban.

“It was the decision of the NSWMC to come up with a balanced judgment on the use of single-use plastics by taking into consideration that we can only ban those that have available alternatives,” explained Antiporda who is also the alternate NSWMC chair.

The DENR official cited Section 29 of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which provides that “‘non-environmentally acceptable products shall not be prohibited unless the [NSWMC] first finds that there are alternatives which are available to consumers at no more than 10 percent greater cost than the disposable product.”

Created by RA 9003, NSWMC is an inter-agency body under the Office of the President mandated to oversee the implementation of solid waste management plans and prescribe policies to achieve the law’s objectives.

Aside from the DENR, the NSWMC is also composed of the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Trade and Industry.

Other members include the League of Cities of the Philippines, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Information Agency, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and representatives from the recycling and manufacturing/packaging sectors. ###