Science and Environment

House panel OKs ban on microplastics

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A committee of the House of Representatives has approved a bill that seeks to prohibit the use by any company of products such as rinse-off cosmetics and clothing that contain harmful microplastics.  

Rep. Rodel Batocabe of party-list Ako Bicol said the House committee on ecology headed by Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing gave its green light to House Bill 8120, or the “Microplastics Ban Act of 2018.” 

Microplastics is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.” 

“The last time I tried to regulate the cosmetic industry by imposing a vanity tax, I was bashed on social media,” he said of his Vanity Tax Bill which proposes the imposition of excise taxes on women’s beauty products.

He backtracked after getting a backlash mostly from women and the LGBT community. 

“This time the entire cosmetic industry, civil society organizations and government are all united in supporting our bill banning microplastics in cosmetic products to protect marine life and the environment,” Batocabe said.  

Two of the well-known types of microplastics are microbeads and microfibers.  

Microbeads are plastics less than 5mm in size, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, which are added to rinse-off cosmetic products like facial scrubs, body wash and toothpaste. 

According to Batocabe, microfibers are fine, usually soft polyester fiber with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers, used in fabrics for clothes and other garments.   

The senior administration lawmaker said he raised the alarm on microplastics pollution because “this is really a serious matter and should be of concern to all of us.” 

“Aside from the danger to marine animals of large plastics such as straw, plastic bags and the like, there is another danger posed by these very tiny plastics that are released to our oceans and seas when certain synthetic materials deteriorate,” Batocabe added.  

He said “there are numerous scientific studies that detail how these microplastics can be eaten by small marine organisms. These organisms are then eaten by bigger animals.   

“As the microplastics go up the food chain, and most probably to humans, these accumulate or attract toxins that could be very much harmful to our health.”  

Batocabe explained that now more than ever, “we need to be wary of products that may seem to provide comfort for our lives but would later bring more harm to our environment and to our people.”

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