Let’s stick to 3R’s, biodegradable materials to fight plastic pollution–DOST officials

ON top of producing environment-friendly packaging materials, researchers need to help manufacturers come up with ways to reduce, reuse and recycle (3R), to address the biggest challenge posed by global plastic pollution, officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said.

Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, undersecretary for Research and Development of the DOST, said there is a need to create a balance to ensure sustainability, including reducing food waste and spoilage, consumer safety and more important, the production of environment-friendly packaging materials and proper disposal.

Guevara was guest of honor and speaker during the opening ceremonies of the two-day International Packaging Symposium organized by Packaging Technology Division (PTD) of the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) of the DOST and Asia Packaging Network (APN) at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

Interviewed by the BusinessMirror, she said it is not enough to know that packaging creates a lot of garbage that also causes flood.

“We need root-cause analysis. At the end of the day, there must be a balance. Our problem is not packaging. Our problem is discipline. If we can only reuse, recycle, then we will have no problem with garbage,” Guevara said.

Beyond producing environment-friendly packaging materials like biodegradable plastic and identifying alternative raw materials appropriate to replace plastics, she said, there is a need for scientists and researchers to engage the private sector for it to invest more and address the problem caused by poor packaging materials and more important the improper disposal of plastic wastes.

Guevara said the DOST-ITDI has, in fact, already developed biodegradable plastic from natural materials and is looking for a partner who will manufacture these biodegradable plastics.

“We already have biodegradable plastic. It is available for technology transfer,” she said.

Guevara said the technology was a product of four years of research and development headed by DOST-ITDI Materials Science Division chief Dr. Blessie Basilia.

According to Guevara, the DOST, through ITDI, is willing to fund research and development to ensure sustainability in the manufacturing sector through improved packaging materials, particularly for food safety and consumer safety in the packaging of various consumer products.

For one, she said researchers should be able to offer solutions that will help reduce food waste, extend the life of food products, avoid spoilage for the agriculture sector.

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