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Editorial | Our struggle with plastics

From the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed, we use all kinds of plastics, most of them meant to be used only once and then thrown to the garbage. We drink coffee in sachets, use shampoo in sachets, brush our teeth using toothpaste in sachets, and our hygiene products in sachets. Of course those who can afford to buy in bottles also use plastics – high density polyethylene (HDPE), then proceed to buy gourmet coffee in cups – Expanded polystyrene (EPS), the protective packaging of hot cup. Fast food places uses Polystyrene in cutlery and plates, and Low density polyethylene (LDPE) in food packaging trays.

A report of the UN Environment states that across the world, “one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.”

The UN Environment claims that 300 million tonnes of plastic wastes are produced every year. UN researches estimate that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics has been produced since the early 1950s. It is now campaigning to slow the flow of plastics at its source and to improve the way we manage our plastic.

We are aware of the harm the wanton use of plastics has done to our country. In a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations in the third quarter of last year showed that more Filipinos are willing to take part in a cleaner world.

The SWS poll said that 68 percent of adult Filipinos are willing to buy food seasoning and condiments in recyclable or refillable containers. It also showed that 41 percent of Filipinos want companies to use or find alternative materials to plastic, while 71 percent would like regulation on the use or less use of plastic sando bags nationwide. It also presented that Filipinos surveyed want regulation on the use of styrofoam or polystyrene food containers (56 percent); plastic ”labo” bags (54 percent); plastic straws and stirrers (52 percent); and sachets (50 percent).

With this growing awareness on the use of plastics, there is hope that we can reverse the trend of plastic use in the coming years even as we admit that it will be a long, hard struggle.

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