Opinion

Plastic Straws Have Become an Issue in the Upcoming Elections

Many Filipinos will vote for candidates who plan to the address issue of plastic pollution.
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The plastic waste problem has officially become an issue of national importance.

Eight out of 10 Filipinos said they will vote for a senatorial candidate who will advocate for the strict implementation of solid waste management laws, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey commissioned by Greenpeace Philippines revealed.

Released on January 15, the survey also showed seven out of 10 Filipinos will vote for senatorial candidates who will advocate for laws that will prohibit establishments from using non-biodegradable plastic across the country.

“They [voters] want candidates who will address the issue of plastic pollution with true and lasting solutions. We are hearing a lot now on how politicians want to solve this crisis, but sadly, these are band-aid solutions that are mostly done for show,” said Abigail Aguilar, campaigner for the local office of Greenpeace. “Our voters are looking at the midterm elections to choose candidates who will present a vision and see that vision translate into action.”

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The survey, conducted through face-to-face interviews in the third quarter of 2018, had 1,500 participants from across the country.

To be fair, some lawmakers are already taking steps to address the problem. Senator Risa Hontiveros filed Senate Bill No. 1866, or the Plastic Straw and Stirrer Ban of 2018, which propoases a ban on the use of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and other non-biodegradable materials in restaurants and food establishments nationwide. The bill remains pending at the committee level.

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Unknown to many, the country also has the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, which requires  all local government units to have proper waste segregation, recycling, composting, and other ecological methods before disposal in the appropriate facilities. It was even deemed a landmark law on waste management in Southeast Asia when it was passed in 2000, but its implementation remains faulty and flawed.

With the country’s current standing as the third biggest source of plastic waste in the ocean, truly, the cause needs more advocates in government.

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Still, the survey revealed the truth most of us have known long before but struggled to work on: that we are just as responsible for the waste we make. Seven out of 10 Filipinos surveyed said citizens have more responsibility, more than anyone, in reducing plastic pollution in the country. Can we finally walk the talk?

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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