The Problem with Packaging

Original Author: Shainne Hostalero, MDC
Originally published on June 25, 2018
Last updated on November 25, 2019

Small acts can go a long way. Having the conscious effort to partake and encourage others is enough, at least for now, to take a stand towards the environment everyone deserves.

The Philippines has ranked third in the list of countries in the world with most ocean plastic pollution in the year 2015 by a research study conducted by the University of Georgia. Another study reported that the Philippines is among the top three generators of plastic wastes in the globe. Eighty percent of which came from landfills including the eight million tons of plastic waste reported annually.

An increasing number of people are already aware of the problems face regarding plastic pollution. The purposeful move of various celebrations such as Earth Day and World Environment Day is to encourage people’s participation in any form of clean-up, responsible usage of plastics, and breaking free from it are swelling. This is to boost the movement to put a halt to the increasing plastic pollution that distress, not only the land but also the ocean and its inhabitants mainly from day-to-day.  

The efforts of different Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), private institutions, and even the academic aspect have been increasingly known through the mobilization and social media communication they drive. Campaigns like #BreakFreeFromPlastic, utilization of reusable bags, and even utensils are the things that form the trend nowadays.

Despite the ‘trend,’ majority of us forget or chooses to not participate in such campaigns even though results or consequences are evident. Big companies are also called and encouraged to be accountable for single-use plastics for their products’ packaging. In fact, some of the multinational companies who are recognized worldwide were the most significant contributors to plastic wastes.

The Philippines has ranked third in the list of countries in the world with most ocean plastic pollution in the year 2015.

Photo from Greenpeace Philippines | #BreakFreeFromPlastic

Consumers are also responsible to properly dispose of their waste and companies as big as multinational ones and known all over the world should also have the conscious effort to participate in long-term innovations and packaging solutions to assuage the escalating plastic pollution in the country.

The chemicals used to make plastics also contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) that hardens our battle towards climate change. And with the present facts and statistics of these wastes, it is not impossible that plastics in the ocean will soon dominate the fishes. According to Sherry Lippiatt, an ocean scientist and California Regional Coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program, “in every pound of tuna we are taking out from the ocean, we are putting double pounds of plastic back to it.”

Globally speaking, multinational companies alongside different small to medium enterprises using single-use plastics as packaging are producing 300 million tons of plastics every year; by which, eight million of it goes straight to the ocean and to other bodies of water.

Plastic waste in Manila, Philippines | Photo from Ecomerge Blog (https://ecomerge.blogspot.com)

“In every pound of tuna we are taking out from the ocean, we are putting double pounds of plastic back to it.” - Sherry Lippiatt, an ocean scientist and California Regional Coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program

Fast-food chains in the Philippines are also considered one of the largest contributors of plastic waste. The use of disposable utensils, food packaging, straw, and plastic bags are still known for consumption. In fairness, selected fast-food chains in the Metro discouraged the use of plastics especially of straws for both dine-in and take-out/to-go orders. This move will undoubtedly affect the community as it is expected to reduce plastic wastes collected.

General Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary, encouraged everyone – in the community, the government, private individuals – to take part of helping the environment and make a difference even just making simple efforts to reduce utilization of plastics. Bringing own water bottles, cups, shopping bags, and properly recycling plastics, as well as volunteering for local clean-up activities can make a huge difference.

Companies, no matter how big or small should also have the mission to do business responsibly not to harm the environment and its stakeholders. Leaders, on the other hand, must have the concentration to operate sensibly to the effects of their materials to the public.

The remedy to the problem is not impossible to achieve if everyone is willing to make a difference for the betterment of the community. Small acts can go a long way; having the conscious effort to partake and encourage others is sufficient enough to take a stand towards the improvement everyone deserves.

 

References:

Greenpeace Philippines, Greenpeace Southeast Asia. (2018, June 5). Plastic pollution a multifaceted problem, calls out companies to take action[Press release]. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Plastic-pollution-a-multifaceted-problem-calls-out-companies-to-take-action/

Mabasa, R. (2018, June 7). UN asks for help in clearing oceans of plastic pollution. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/06/07/un-asks-for-help-in-clearing-oceans-of-plastic-pollution/

Reysio-Cruz, M. (2018, April 23). PH joins global call: Ban plastic pollution. Inquirer.net. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/984447/ph-joins-global-call-ban-plastic-pollution

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