The replacement of single-use plastic bags in shopping malls and supermarkets with paper bag may be a good move to rid the use of plastic but this might result to the depletion of the environment for the production of more paper bags, the former secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and an academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) said on Thursday.
Academicians and scientists were in Puerto Princesa City for the DOST’s Speakers’ Bureau presentation in Citystate Asturias Hotel, participated by various government agencies, academe, and stakeholders.
Former DOST chief Dr. Felimon A. Uriarte Jr. said that there are local government units (LGUs) in different parts of the country who are banning the use of plastic bags yet replacing it with paper bags.
This, he explained, might incur irreparable damage to our environment since more trees will be needed to produce paper bags. “Maraming mga LGUs na nag-pass ng ordinance not knowing that the overall impact is much larger than the plastic itself,” he warned.
One of the impacts to the environment is the depletion of forest due to the cutting of trees in order to produce paper bags as packaging materials or primary packaging.
He explained that the amount of energy and the pollution that will be generated for the manufacturing of paper bags are already considered as significant pressures to our environment.
“Paper bags are 3 to 5 times heavier than plastic. Ibig sabihin ay mas mabigat siya. Mas mahirap e-transport at magkakaroon pa ng dagdag na emissions,” he said.
Philippines is one of the world’s top five plastic polluters along with China, Indonesia and other countries.
Yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, in its banner story said that President Rodrigo Duterte considered implementing the nationwide ban of plastic, specifically single-use plastic bags.
Dr. Uriarte further said that the solution to the present solid waste management mess in the country is to prevent these plastics from reaching our oceans, and there are many ways on how to prevent it. This is through the re-use or proper disposal in our sanitary landfills.
“Scientifically, the overall solution is to prevent. Prevent the use of plastic through circular economy or just re-purpose/reuse it,” he said.
One important thing to do, in order to solve plastic pollution, is to educate the people through massive information and education campaign.
“Hindi replacement ang solusyon. Ang kailangan natin is to educate the people through IEC (Information Education Campaign) na wag itatapon sa ating mga karagatan,” Dr. Uriarte said.