Velasco calls for ‘direct, tangible’ actions to address plastic pollution
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has emphasized a “compelling need” to introduce direct and concrete actions to curb plastic pollution in the country, including imposing a ban on harmful and unnecessary single-use plastic products.
According to the House top leader, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the problem with plastic pollution worse with the production and importation – in large quantities – of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are being used across the world in the fight against the new coronavirus.
Some of these PPEs, he noted, “end up in open landfills and the ocean, adding to the already worsening problem of pollution.”
“We should be more determined and proactive in eradicating plastic pollution. We are racing against time to save our planet,” Velasco said in a statement Wednesday, April 22, as the Philippines joins the global community’s annual celebration of Earth Day.
Citing data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Velasco said that over 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, with at least eight million tons ending up in oceans that threaten the ecosystems of marine wildlife.
The Speaker added that according to IUCN, marine species ingest and/or are entrapped by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and deaths.
“Indeed, pollution has reached the deepest recesses of nature, which is God’s gift for all of humanity… This is an alarming reality that should serve as a wake-up call for the entire humanity,” Velasco said.
“We need to take steps before our land and ocean are overwhelmed with plastic waste and we are deprived of our much-needed food supply and balanced biodiversity,” he also said.
Velasco is one of the main proponents of House Bill No. 9147, which seeks to regulate the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, use, recovery, collection, recycling, and disposal of single-use plastic products.
The bill is currently under consideration for the second reading at the lower chamber.
“The measure also provides steps for the eventual phasing out of single-use plastic products, a step that is from all accounts, one in the right direction,” Velasco explained.
Among other objectives, the proposed law aims to protect life, both land and water, from hazards posed by plastic pollution and ensure that non-compostable single-use synthetic plastic products do not leak into nature.
It also seeks to promote circularity through the reduction, reuse and recycling of plastic trash.
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