DENR pushes phase out of plastic stirrers, straws

By Catherine Teves


Stakeholders in the industry of plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws will have a year to phase out these soon-to-be-banned non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAPs).


The grace period would help them prepare for the ban and adjust accordingly, according to Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, also National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) alternate chairperson, recently.


"There'll be a phase-out period so their industry won't be that affected," he said.


He noted the one-year countdown will begin after publication of the official resolution banning plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws nationwide.


Both are the first two products for inclusion in the country's maiden NEAP list of prohibited items.


NSWMC already approved such products' inclusion in that long-overdue list, the environment department noted in its Feb. 3, 2021 press release.


Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) ordered NSWMC to prepare, within one year from effectivity of this law and in consultation with stakeholders concerned, a list of NEAPs that the government will ban.


According to RA 9003's implementing rules and regulations, NEAPs are "products or packaging that are unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or that produce or release harmful products".


Plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws made it to the NEAP list as Antiporda said studies showed these are not environment-friendly.


"Those are also the first products that we saw have alternatives," he said.


Among the alternatives are reusable straws and stirrers.


"We can live without plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws since these are not necessities," said Antiporda.


Studies and public consultations on other products will continue to determine which of these will also make it to the NEAP list, he said.


NSWMC must annually review and update the list.


RA 9003 prohibits banning NEAPs unless the NSWMC finds alternatives available to the public at costs that are not more than 10 percent higher than the corresponding prices of items these will replace.


The law also said that "notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary," its section on NEAPs "shall not apply to packaging used at hospitals, nursing homes or other medical facilities; and any packaging which is not environmentally acceptable, but for which there is no commercially available alternative as determined by the Commission". (PNA)