Science and Environment

‘Biggest contributors of marine plastic are multinationals’

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Environmentalists say that the Philippines has been consistently among the top three contributors to marine plastic pollution worldwide since 2014, but the biggest sources are in fact multinational corporations overseas. 

A study made by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) pointed to China as the topmost polluter followed by Indonesia.

“If the Duterte government does not sanction, prohibit, or significantly limit the importation of excessive plastic-intensive products, then we are virtually doing nothing to address the issue,” said Kalikasan PNE coordinator Leon Dulce.

A recent audit conducted by the Mother Earth Foundation and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives demonstrated that single-use plastic packaging of multinational corporations comprise 75 percent of residual waste, with plastic food packaging making up 79 percent of this.

Dulce said recent proposed legislation for a national ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and single-use plastic is welcome indicator that lawmakers are recognizing the extent of plastic pollution.

“The executive, meanwhile, is still missing the point by heavily focusing on changing consumer behavior. We need stronger action zeroed in on the biggest polluters in the production side,” he added.

Dulce stressed that the proliferation of plastic stems from the drive of the world’s biggest corporate manufacturers to earn as much profit as possible through the production and sale of cheap but pollutive plastic and plastic-wrapped products. 

“The import-dependent and pre-industrial character of the Philippine economy makes us a prime destination of plastics waiting to become harmful waste. We have limited to no capability to sufficiently recycle them,” he said.

The group likewise said that more sweeping and long-term measures should be adopted to help significantly trim down plastic pollution. 

“Tariffs and quotas may be levied on plastic and plastic-wrapped goods produced by multinational corporations. On the other hand, incentives should be given to local producers of goods that minimize or use eco-friendly alternatives as their containers or components.”

Dulce said the long-term encouragement, support and development of a local, eco-friendly manufacturing industry would help provide cheaper and greener alternatives to the basic consumer goods the country imports. 

“Local, cheaper plastics-free alternatives will enable a broader mass of the population to use these greener products, while at the same time producing jobs for the Filipino people. We now challenge President Rodrigo Duterte to see and take action on the plastic pollution issue,” the group added.

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