PHASING OUT certain plastics, as a bill in Congress proposes, must take consumer behavior into account and more time than just four years to be fully implemented, an analyst said.

“If phasing out is really the track, it can be managed by a staggered implementation as plastic use is behavioral. You cannot just abruptly remove plastic until the population is able to adjust,” John Paolo R. Rivera, president and chief economist at Oikonomia Advisory & Research, Inc., said in a Viber message on Sunday.

Last Nov. 13, the House Committee on Ecology approved the proposed Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulation Act, which seeks to phase out in four years plastic plates and saucers, oxo-degradable plastics and film wraps less than 50 microns thick.

The bill also seeks to discontinue in one year the use of flexible drinking straws, stirrers, sticks for candy, balloons or cotton buds, buntings, confetti, and packaging less than 10 microns thick.

“It can be done but four years may be too short to change behavior unless stringent laws will be applied,” said Mr. Rivera.

Mr. Rivera said that the government should also focus on minimizing the use of plastics. “Plastics should be used when appropriate and plastic substitutes [should] be used…in products like [that use] dry goods packaging.”

He added that recycling, upscaling and a proper system on plastic disposal should be implemented.

Riedo A. Panaligan, project coordinator of Plastic Free Pilipinas, said the measure could be implemented as the single-use plastics targeted for phase out “have clear alternatives already available in the market such as plastic straw with metal straws, plastic bags with ecobags, etcetera.”

“The world is now facing a plastic crisis, it is about time to eliminate problematic single-use plastics and plastic with known hazardous chemicals,” Mr. Panaligan said in an e-mail.

He added that the measure should include incentives that could help lessen the demand for plastics such as the establishments of alternative delivery systems and refills.

Congressmen last year approved a separate measure that seeks to impose an excise tax of P100 per kilo on single-use plastic bags. The bill is still pending before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Panaligan also said that Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which lists non-environmentally acceptable packaging and products has yet to be implemented.

The Philippines is projected to generate 92 million tons of waste from 2022 to 2025, data from the Environmental Management Bureau said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz