(PNA file photo) 

MANILA – The environment department will further conduct public consultations on non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging (NEAPs) which RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) sets to phase out.

Another round of public consultation is scheduled on Monday (Feb. 1) to give manufacturing and packaging stakeholders an opportunity to air their views and concerns about the target phase-out, said environmental management specialist Bhona Oñate of Environmental Management Bureau on Thursday, which is leading the department's efforts against solid waste.

She noted such stakeholder feedback is essential in developing the NEAP list that RA 9003 requires.

"There's still no such list until now," she said.

It remains unclear when the country will have its first NEAP list since RA 9003 cites the need for public consultations on the matter first.

According to RA 9003's implementing rules and regulations, NEAPs are "products or packaging that are unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or that produce or release harmful products."

RA 9003 ordered National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to prepare, within one year from effectivity of this law, the list of NEAPs to be banned following the schedule such body will set in consultation with stakeholders concerned.

NEAPs shall not be banned unless NSWMC first finds alternatives available to the public at costs that aren't more than 10 percent higher than corresponding prices of items these will replace, however, RA 9003 clarified.

Such law also said that "notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary," its section on NEAPs "shall not apply to (a) Packaging used at hospitals, nursing homes or other medical facilities; and (b) Any packaging which is not environmentally acceptable, but for which there is no commercially available alternative as determined by the Commission."

Public consultation NSWMC held on Jan. 22 this year aimed to identify single-use plastic items for inclusion in the NEAP list, noted the environment department.

Such items end up as trash after people throw these away.

Environment chief and NSWMC chairperson Roy Cimatu acknowledged developing the NEAP list won't be easy.

He, however, assured work on the matter will continue.

"Though we are experiencing heavy resistance from the plastic industry, we will still push through in coming up with a list of NEAPs," he said earlier this week in his message for RA 9003's 20th anniversary.

Philippine waste generation is increasing -- raising urgency for dealing with NEAPs, he noted.

"We will make sure that NEAPs will not be left behind in the waste management of our country," he said.

Environment undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Cimatu's alternate as NSWMC chairperson, said despite RA 9003, the country's average daily waste generation rose from some 37,000 tons in 2012 to around 40,000 tons in 2016.

"At the close of 2020, the country has generated some 21.5 million metric tons of garbage," he also said in his RA 9003 anniversary message earlier this week.

Such data showed the country has not achieved much success in implementing RA 9003 that promotes solid waste management through the three Rs which are reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, he noted.

"Those three Rs two decades ago expanded to five Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse and rot," he said.

He noted Cimatu's prioritization of solid waste management is raising compliance with RA 9003, however.

"In the next two years, we commit to work even harder," he said.

Among solid waste management-related achievements nationwide under Cimatu are reduction in number of open dumps, increase in sanitary landfills and filing of cases against LGUs that have not been complying with RA 9003, said the environment department. (PNA