March 15 is World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). The consumer movement, Consumers International, first marked that date in 1983. Celebrating the day is an opportunity to reiterate the demand that the rights of all consumers must be respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.

This  year, all consumers will join in tackling plastic pollution.  Our ecosystem is suffering  from  single-use plastics which continue to fill our oceans. As a global consumer movement, the Consumers International plays a critical role in tackling plastic pollution and promoting sustainable consumption by mobilizing its membership towards this end.

In our country, consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. and environmental health group Eco Waste Coalition have jointly urged the government to ban Single Use Plastics or  SUP.

Laban Konsyumer, a full-term active  member of Consumers International, has stated that “xxx we need a strong policy in the form of a special law that will provide a general framework, direction and timeline toward phasing out SUPs on a national scale within a reasonable period. xxxThe adoption of such a law will support and strengthen the efforts by national government agencies, local government units, industries and businesses, civil society groups and consumers to address plastic pollution.”

Sonny Africa, executive director of IBON Foundation and also a member of Consumers International, stated that “xxx single use plastic waste can be addressed by polluting corporations if they give real attention to ways of refilling, reusing and recycling their products. Taken up by consumers, it’s also a useful gateway issue to much bigger environmental issues of ecological destruction and climate change and for eventually prompting a fundamental rethink of the grossly unsustainable consumption and production we have all gotten used to.”

Recently as well, there have been major steps and developments taken by the government. Below are some.

The Climate Change Commission emphasized the need for a law banning single –use plastics in the Philippines to enable the country to contribute to the global goal of limiting warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and prevent the worst of climate change impacts.

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), issued a resolution banning the use of single-use plastics in all government offices. The measure defines single-use plastic as “disposable plastic products which are commonly used for packaging and include items to be used only once that are thrown away or recycled.”

There are also bills in both  chambers of Congress that seek to ban single-use plastics in the country.  These seek the immediate passage of a measure to permanently prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale, and use of single-use plastic products in the country. An Extended Producers Responsibility or EPR will hold producers responsible for collecting and recycling the amount of plastics that they produce and introduce in the market. Unfortunately, according to a sponsor of these measures, “xxx ours is what is called a sachet economy, meaning we buy many products in small quantities. xxx”.

At the local level, many cities have  adopted ordinances  banning or regulating use of plastic bags including  Antipolo, Cagayan de Oro, Caloocan,  Bacolod, Baguio, Batangas , Iriga, Lapu Lapu , Las Pinas,Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Puerto Princesa , Quezon , San Carlos, San Fernando, Santa Rosa, Trece Martires, among others .

Businesses have also come up with different ways to be environmentally friendly, and fashion brands have opted to create more sustainable products for their market. The Philippine Plastics Industry Association has reported that the industry has called for the sustained implementation of proper waste segregation, as a way to support the campaign against plastics pollution

Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the Eco Waste Coalition, points to the importance of identifying and banning products and packaging materials that are not environmentally acceptable and which have led to the massive production of throw-away SUPs that are barely reused or recycled.

Helena Leurent, Director General of Consumers International sums up the consumer’s responsibility as follows : “xxx Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet.  Consumer awareness of the plastics crisis is growing around the world.  Consumers have a crucial role to shape the marketplace, and we must support them to mobilize businesses and governments, to ensure sustainable consumption is accessible to all.”

I urge my fellow consumers to follow her advice.

Atty. Vic Dimagiba is President of Laban Konsyumer Inc.

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Source: Manila Bulletin (