THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it supports taxing single-use plastic shopping bags on a per-piece basis, saying that taxing by weight would worsen the plastic pollution problem.

“We would like to ask for the understanding of the House of Representatives that if they really want to tax (it should not be) by kilo, but by piece because that will only promote the use of single-use plastics,” Environment Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Unit Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said at the department’s year-end news conference Tuesday in Quezon City.

House Bill (HB) No. 178, or the bill imposing a P20 per kilogram tax on single-use plastic bags, was approved by the House Committee on Ways and Means on Dec. 10. If signed into law, this will be the Single-Use Plastic Bag Tax Act.

The tax is expected to generate P4.8 billion, which will fund solid waste management and the implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Mr. Antiporda said taxing by weight will only drive plastics manufacturers to produce thinner bags that are of lower quality, raising the risk they will be easily discarded.

Pag numipis iyon, automatic pag binuhol hindi nila mabubuksan, pupunitin nila iyon (Thinner bags will discourage reuse) and they will just be thrown away, so what will happen it will just end up in our landfill, worst case in our waterways,” he said.

Nananawagan tayo at nakiki-usap na kung maari ay i-reconsider yung taxing by kilo. We have nothing against taxation… but taxing by kilo iyon ay very dangerous (We are asking that the House reconsider taxing by weight. We have nothing against taxation… but taxing by kilo is very dangerous),” he said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte expressed his support for a single-use plastics ban via legislative action at a Cabinet meeting on Nov. 6. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang