Calls for cheap alternative to plastic straws, stirrers sought ahead of nationwide ban

February 5, 2021 - 5:46 PM
A photo of a floating plastic cup with straw on it (Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash)

Alternative products to plastic straws and stirrers were sought online after the environment agency announced that these products will soon be banned in the country.

In line with the celebration of the International Straw Free Day last Wednesday, the National Solid Waste Management Commission approved the inclusion of plastic straws and coffee stirrers in the list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP).

Products included in the NEAP list will soon be banned nationwide as part of the long-overdue implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

This decision came after a virtual meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management, local government units and DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, who is also alternate chair of the NSWMC.

“This is a significant milestone for NSWMC, and for the Filipino people. We have long been fighting for and we are committed in having a NEAP list to comply with the law to combat environmental damage,” Antiporda said.

“The prohibition on these two single-use plastic items may be small steps in the NEAP listing, but it is a big leap when it comes to compliance with the provisions of RA 9003,” he added.

Plastic straws and coffee stirrers are among the items considered as “unnecessary single-use plastics” under NSWMC Resolution 1363 (Series of 2020).

This resolution, which was issued last year, directed the DENR to recommend policies and implement the banning of the use of the materials in the list.

The rest of the products on the list are:

  1. Plastic cups (lower than 0.2 mm in thickness)
  2. Plastic spoons
  3. Plastic forks
  4. Plastic knives
  5. Plastic labo and thin-filmed sando bags (lower than 15 microns)

Last November, in the wake of the strong typhoons, 31 coastal LGUs have also agreed to appeal for a nationwide ban on single-use plastics.

They signed an online petition addressed to the NSWMC, urging the agency to include all single-use plastic materials in the priority list of NEAP.

Need for alternative solutions

While many Filipinos welcomed the looming ban, they sought for alternative and affordable solutions given that most products for everyday use have plastic incorporated in them.

“You can’t ban straws because you’re definitely not considering disabled people. Unless you can find an alternative that is stable as a plastic straw,” one user wrote.

“Kaya ng tao, mahal po masyado ng mga eco-friendly na gamit kaming mga mahirap di kaya ng bulsa,” one user said.

Others also worried that the public will return to cutting down more trees for paper bags.

“Then people start turning to paper bags which are made of trees great move isn’t it?” another wrote.

Some of them noted that face shields which is a requirement in public places are also made of plastic.

“How will you dispose the plastic face shields?” one user said.

One Facebook user suggested that the implementation of the plastic straw and coffee stirrer ban should first be at the local level.

“Other LGUs already implemented a ban on single use plastic like CDO, Iligan City, rather than nationwide this should start at very base LGU must step up the game, they are after all the primary implementer if becomes nationwide,” the user said.

On Reddit, some users made suggestions on what could replace plastic straws and stirrers.

“They probably will replace it with bamboo,” one Reddit user said.

Environmental groups Oceana Philippines and Greenpeace Philippines once again asked the national government to prohibit the use of single-use or disposable plastic goods across the country, citing the two-decade delay in reducing plastic pollution in the country.

They recommended that thin plastic take-out containers, styrofoam or polystyrene food containers, sachet, packaging, or products that are multilayered with other materials should also be added in the NEAP list.