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Let’s kiss off the plastic

Manila Standard

This year, the Philippines passed a critical national law that advances the legal framework to combat further plastic pollution.

Titled the “Extended Producer Responsibility” law, the legislation requires mandatory EPR for businesses with assets worth over ₱100 million.

Not many know the Philippines dominates global ocean plastic pollution chart at 36 percent, with an international study showing the Philippines is the world’s leading contributor to plastic pollution in the oceans, with an average of 3.30 kilograms per person per year.

According to the 2021 report of the World Bank Organization, the Philippines generates a staggering 2.7 million tons of plastic waste annually and 20 percent of which winds up in the ocean, much of it in the form of unrecyclable, single-use sachets.

This scenario cries out yet once more for urgent attention as the latest negotiations towards a global treaty to combat plastic pollution opened in Nairobi this week, with tensions expected as nations tussle over what should be included in the pact.

Some 175 countries agreed last year to conclude by 2024 a UN treaty to address the plastic blighting oceans, floating in the atmosphere, and infiltrating the bodies of animals and humans.

Around 60 so-called “high ambition” nations have called for binding rules to reduce the use and production of plastic, which is made from fossil fuels, a measure supported by many environment groups.

It is not a position shared by many plastic-producing economies, including the United States, which have long preferred to focus on recycling, innovation and better waste management.

The draft presenting the various ways forward will form the basis for the high-stakes deliberations at the UN Environment Program headquarters in Nairobi.

With more than 2,000 delegates registered, and advocates from environmental and plastic groups also in the room, the negotiations are expected to get heated as the details are hammered out.

Hundreds of climate campaigners, waving placards reading “Plastic crisis = climate crisis,” marched the other day in Nairobi calling for the talks to focus on cutting the amount of plastic produced.

We agree with Kenyan President William Ruto who described plastic pollution as “an existential threat to life, to humanity and everything in between.”

“To deal with plastic pollution, humanity must change. We must change the way we consume, the way we produce, and how we dispose (of) our waste.”

The meeting to debate the future of plastic comes just before crucial climate talks in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates later this month, where discussions over fossil fuels and their planet-heating emissions are due to dominate the agenda.

As in the UN negotiations on climate and biodiversity, financing is a key point of tension in the plastic talks.

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