AN environmental protection group has warned on the disastrous impact of plastic sachets in the environment, notably in the country’s marine resources.
June Alvarez, Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Inc. (PCEPSDI), told the BusinessMirror that discarded sachets widely used in the packaging of consumer products in a “sachet economy” like the Philippines have found their way into oceans.
A recent study, Alvarez said, have even indicated that some species of fish had microplastics in their bodies.
At present, the Philippines had been ranked as the world’s third largest plastics polluter next only to China and Indonesia.
Moreover, sachets and plastics have also been one of the major causes of flooding in urban centers, such as Metro Manila.
“If these small packaging items are not all disposed of or recycled properly, it becomes mismanaged waste and it also contributes to marine litter. Another aspect is that plastic packaging is fairly convenient and easy to use. The majority of the consumers still prefer plastics over paper bags,” Alvarez pointed out.
Alvarez also deplored the low acceptance of sustainable alternatives in the country, citing the fact that majority of the population does not have access to environment-friendly packaging such as cassava bags and other recyclable materials.
Alvarez stressed that the government, in partnership with the private sector, should introduce programs and measures to make sustainable packaging products accessible and more affordable to the market, especially to the marginalized sectors.
Nevertheless, Alavarez sees a silver lining as his group is seeing strong support from the government, especially with the Department of Trade and Industry, in promoting ecolabelling.
He added government and the private sector must also make a strong push against the practice of greenwashing by some other brands by unscrupulously labeling their products as eco-friendly and sustainable.
Based on the market readiness survey conducted by the PCEPSDI for the Sustainable Packaging Project, Alvarez said the respondents showed a positive attitude towards sustainability and majority of them are willing to switch from single-use packaging to sustainable alternative packaging.
“Generally, demand for environmentally-preferable packaging products in the country is growing over the years, especially that more brands and companies offering sustainably produced products. The products that National Ecolabelling Programme-Green Choice Philippines [NELP-GCP] has ecolabelled are priced competitively so consumers don’t have to worry about the price difference. Although, there is still a gap with the knowledge of the consumers on ecolabelling and how it relates to the environmental performance of a product,” he explained.
Currently, the PCEPSDI has 42 ecolabelling categories ranging from consumer products, and restaurants to construction materials. So far, the NELP-GCP has awarded a total of 57 Green Choice Seal of Approval (licenses).
He said ecolabelling recognizes the company’s environmental performance dedicated to protecting the environment. The NELP-GCP Seal of Approval offers enterprises reinforced corporate imaging, brand recognition, and product excellence. The product brand immediately gains a preferential position in the market, as the GCP ecolabel is synonymous with eco-friendly quality based on internationally recognized standards.
The development of the Packaging Products Ecolabelling Criteria is in partnership with the ‘Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter’ project funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ and Expertise France.
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