The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), recently held a nationwide public consultation with various stakeholders to identify single-use plastic items that will be included in the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials or NEAP.

The NSWMC, chaired by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, organized the virtual consultation, last January 22 which was participated in by 169 representatives from local government units, private sector, and key stakeholders from civil society groups, including Ecowaste Coalition and Oceana Philippines.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Concerns and NSWMC Alternate Chair Benny D. Antiporda said conducting the consultation is "a key moment on our work on NEAP," noting that coming up with the list of NEAP is anticipated.

"Rest assured that this NEAP will not be left behind," Antiporda said, acknowledging that the establishment of the NEAP list is "long overdue."

Antiporda expressed optimism over the formulation and adoption of the list of NEAP due to the renewed vigor to engage stakeholders in implementing Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's administration.

He also assured those in the public consultation that the NSWMC will remain transparent on the recommendations in the NEAP list.

RA 9003 provides that the NSWMC "shall, after public notice and hearing, prepare a list of non-environmentally acceptable products as defined in the Act that shall be prohibited according to a schedule to be prepared by the Commission."

It also states that the NEAP "shall not be prohibited until the Commission finds there are alternatives available to consumers at a cost that is no more than 10 percent greater than the disposable product."

During the public consultation, Reynaldo Esguerra of the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) presented the results of a study conducted from October to December 2020.

The DOST is a member of the NSWMC.

The study titled "Findings on the Assessment Conducted on Certain Products for Inclusion in the Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products (NEAP) List" focused on the assessment of single-use plastic straws, commonly used for softdrinks, and coffee stirrers and its equivalent alternative materials.

Based on the rapid risk assessment conducted on four items, glass straws posed the highest score with 25 points, followed by metal straws, 23; plastic, 17; and paper straws, 10.

Esguerra said the higher the score, the greater the risk.

Meanwhile, a wood stirrer has a risk assessment score of 10, and 16 for plastic stirrers. ###