Speaker Velasco cites urgent need to tackle plastic pollution

BOAC, Marinduque — As the Philippines joins the global community in celebrating Earth Day, Marinduque Representative and Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco recently sounded an urgent call to address plastic pollution which has become one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

Velasco said there is a compelling need to introduce direct and tangible actions to curb plastic pollution, such as imposing a ban on harmful and unnecessary single-use plastic products.

“We should be more determined and proactive in eradicating plastic pollution. We are racing against time to save our planet,” Velasco said.

Citing data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Velasco said that over 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year with at least 8 million tons end up into the oceans, ultimately threatening the ecosystems of marine wildlife.

Velasco said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has even made the situation worse with the production and importation in large quantities of personal protective equipment or PPE to fight the coronavirus.

“All these end up in open landfills and the ocean, adding to the already worsening problem of pollution,” he lamented, adding that these plastic pollutants are “very harmful to both marine animals and humans.”

According to IUCN, marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and deaths. It added that plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change.

Velasco said one recent event that has revealed the extent of plastic pollution on the planet was the historic dive of Dr. Deo Florence Onda, a microbial oceanographer from the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, to the Emden Deep, the world’s third deepest point.

While the Filipino nation celebrated this feat, Velasco noted that the explorers have also witnessed the presence of plastic debris and fabric waste pollution at the astounding depth of 10,045 meters.

“Indeed, pollution has reached the deepest recesses of nature, which is God’s gift for all of humanity,” he said. “This is an alarming reality that should serve as a wake-up call for the entire humanity.”

Velasco said that while the task may seem to be extremely difficult or nearly impossible to achieve, “we need to take steps before our land and ocean are overwhelmed with plastic waste and we are deprived of our much-needed food supply and balanced biodiversity.”

To help address this need, Velasco said the House of Representatives under his leadership has committed to finding better and more efficient solutions to address the problems regarding pollution and climate change, and be able to adjust to the sustainable new normal under these trying times.

Velasco is one of the main proponents of House Bill 9147, which seeks to regulate the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, use, recovery, collection, recycling and disposal of single-use plastic products. The bill is currently under consideration for second reading.

“The measure also provides steps for the eventual phasing out of single-use plastic products, a step that is from all accounts, one in the right direction,” Velasco said.

Among other objectives, the bill aims to protect life, both land and water, from hazards posed by plastic pollution and to ensure that non-compostable single-use synthetic plastic products do not leak into nature.

It also seeks to promote circularity through reduction, reuse and recycling of plastic trash. — Marinduquenews.com

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