Phaseout of plastic stirrers, straws pushed

The use of plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws will likely be phased out and banned after one year. They are considered as non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAPs).

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, who also serves as alternate chair of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), the ban to enable both players and stakeholders to prepare and adjust to it.

Antiporda said the one-year countdown will begin after publication of the official resolution banning plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws nationwide. They will be the first two products for inclusion in the country’s maiden NEAP list of prohibited items.

NSWMC already approved the inclusion of the two items in the long-overdue list, in accordance with RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act).

RA 9003’s implementing rules and regulations define NEAPs as “products or packaging that are unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or that produce or release harmful products”.

“We can live without plastic coffee stirrers and softdrink straws since these are not necessities,” Antiporda said, adding that studies and public consultations on other products will continue to determine which of them will also make it to the NEAP list.

RA 9003, however, states that “notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary,” its section on NEAPs “shall not apply to Packaging used at hospitals, nursing homes or other medical facilities; and any packaging which is not environmentally acceptable, but for which there is no commercially available alternative as determined by the Commission.”