Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Concerns Benny D. Antiporda sees the recent inclusion of plastic softdrink straws and plastic coffee stirrers in the list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP) in the country as a big boost in the government’s solid waste management initiative.

Antiporda said the recent development makes DENR all the more determined to pursue its solid waste management initiatives through the Tayo ang Kalikasan (TAK) campaign.

“With the initial listing of these two items in the NEAP, we are all the more encouraged to uphold our mandate and advocacy on solid waste management despite the lingering pandemic in the country,” he said.

Inspired by the inclusion of plastic softdrink straws and plastic coffee stirrers in the NEAP list, Antiporda said DENR regional offices, such as the DENR-MIMAROPA have been stepping up their TAK campaign, which primarily aims to enhance people’s awareness on Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 with the end goal of substantially reducing the volume of plastic wastes and prevent these from polluting the environment.

The LGUs in the region, he said, also support the inclusion of the two plastic items in the NEAP list.

Some cities and municipalities already have their own local ordinances which include banning these two unnecessary plastic items, Antiporda said.

“We have LGUs that have started banning plastic coffee stirrers and plastic softdrink straws, such as in El Nido, Palawan. Though there have been challenges in this pandemic, I am glad that our LGUs already realized the damage of such unnecessary items to the environment and that they are our allies in our battle against improper solid waste disposal,” he explained.

DENR-MIMAROPA also plans to boost its partnership with universities for the selection of students as Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Ambassadors.

The students will be trained to promote environmental protection and conservation with a focus on the eradication of unnecessary single-use plastics in their respective schools and communities.

The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Taytay, Palawan conducted training programs for selected ENR Ambassadors, who in turn share these learnings to other people.
The region’s goal is to deputize groups of ENR Ambassadors for the 15 Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs) and CENROs, with six ENR Ambassadors for each office.

It will also provide wi-fi modems and gadgets for the ENR Ambassadors to help in their tasks despite the closure of schools brought about by the pandemic.

Aside from the schools and LGUs as TAK local chapters, the DENR regional office is eyeing partnerships with the business and religious sectors to create policies that would prohibit the use of unnecessary single-use plastics in their establishments.

DENR-MIMAROPA also plans to incorporate income-generating opportunities in the creation of TAK chapters in the region.

Since 2018, the regional office has successfully established TAK local chapters in El Nido, Palawan; Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro; and San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

It has also joined hands with the Girl Scouts of the Philippines in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro and the Apo Reef Natural Park in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

The TAK campaign includes information, education, and communication activities, workshops, online campaigns, innovative solutions, and community involvement to achieve significant reduction of wastes, among others.

“Our ultimate goal is to ban the use of unnecessary single-use plastics in all cities and municipalities in the region. If we all work together, we can defeat the problem on plastic pollution and save communities and the next generation,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda is concurrently the Supervising Undersecretary for Task Force Tayo ang Kalikasan. #