Environmental group Greenpeace called on local government units in the Philippines to strengthen measures against single-use plastic to keep communities safe from waste harms following a notable increase in the usage of single-use plastic amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The call came as 115 health experts from across the globe signed a statement assuring the public of the safety of reusables during the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has triggered a discussion of how to ensure the safety of reusable systems in a public crisis,” noted the experts.
“Based on the best available science and guidance from public health professionals, it is clear that reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene,” read their statement.
The statement noted that household disinfectants have been proven effective at disinfecting hard surfaces, such as reusables.
“Protecting the public’s health must include maintaining the cleanliness of our home, the Earth,” said Renzo Guinto, a Filipino physician and public health expert on health, climate change, and the environment.
“We don’t need to choose one over the other — we can protect ourselves from COVID-19 while protecting the environment,” he said in a statement released by Greenpeace on June 22.
“Evidence shows that reusable bags, containers, and utensils can be used safely to dramatically decrease exposure to the virus while not causing harm to the planet,” he added.
In the Philippines, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back efforts to cut plastic use.
A report said that Quezon City, which implemented an ordinance banning plastic bags in January, is “mulling the deferment of the ban on single-use plastic/disposable material.”
Greenpeace warned that the rise of plastic waste during the pandemic, including single-use gloves, protectors and packaging, may increase the risks and impacts on communities and citizens.
“There has been a growing call for a better normal after the pandemic and that should include dramatic reductions in plastic waste,” said Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma.
She said single-use plastic is “not inherently safer than reusables as it will cause additional public health concerns once discarded.”
“As the government gradually allows businesses to reopen, reusable systems and single-use plastic bans must be implemented to ensure the protection of the environment, workers, and consumers,” added Ledesma.