Mondelez calls for plastics ban rethink, citing food safety


A MULTINATIONAL snack maker said Thursday that the ban on single-use plastics must be reconsidered, calling the packaging material important for ensuring the safety and quality of food products.

“I join the sentiment of our legislators in recognizing that plastic needs to be managed, but a ban on single-use plastics, especially food packaging… I think we need to rethink that policy. We need to explore other options and see if this is really a good idea, because we might be creating a totally different problem by going through this route,” Mondelez Philippines Country Manager for Corporate and Government Affairs Joseph R. Fabul said at the BusinessWorld Insights: Recycling and Proper Waste Management for a Sustainable Future event.

Mr. Fabul noted pending bills in Congress calling for an absolute ban on single-use plastics or stricter regulation of the packaging material.

“For a food manufacturer like us, plastic packaging is actually indispensable to ensure that our consumers get the proper quality of food, and food that is safe to eat,” he said. Plastics are a flexible packaging material that help preserve the integrity of food products.

“If there were a commercially viable, large scale alternative to the use of plastic packaging for food, then we are more than willing to make that commitment but as of now, I don’t think there’s really a sustainable way to store food other than the way it’s being stored now,” he added.

Crispian N. Lao, vice chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, said that if the public is looking to remove plastics from the system, they must confront the question of finding alternatives and how to dispose of them.

He said a ban on single-use plastics is a “short-cut solution” whose effectiveness has yet to be determined. He added that the real problem was in the post-use stage of plastics due to improper waste disposal.

“You need to first discipline our general public to properly dispose of their waste. You need to ensure that the waste that is collected by the local government unit goes where it’s supposed to go,” Mr. Lao, who was also the Founding President of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability, said.

He added that the socioeconomic impact needs to be considered a single-use plastics ban on poor communities who are part of the sachet economy.

Asked about how private businesses can become more environment-friendly, Mr. Fabul said that firms can begin with recycling drives within their operations.

“Generate that level of awareness and understanding within the company, develop that sustainable and recycling mindset from within, help our colleagues understand the importance of recycling and how we can contribute through our individual recycling efforts,” he said.

Mr. Lao recommended that companies have their own solid waste management plans.

“I have always advocated that companies start with a solid waste management plan within their respective organizations so that all the employees and if possible, educate their value chain, their supply chain on what needs to be done and how to do it,” he said.

The Philippines was identified in a 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy as one of the top five sources of ocean plastic. — Angelica Y. Yang