Environmentalists urge an end to wasteful and polluting plastic sachets

A typical sari-sari store festooned with single-use plastic sachets

An audit in the Philippines has shown the country uses a “shocking” amount of single-use plastic, including billions of sachets a year.

The report, produced by the environmental organisation Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) today (Friday, March 8), is part of an to push for government action to reduce plastic waste.

It says that every day, almost 57 million plastic shopping bags are used in the Philippines — a total of more than 20 billion a year.

This figure does not include the smaller bags known as “labo” bags — about 16.5 billion of these are used annually.

The figures are based on 21 waste assessments conducted in six cities and seven municipalities across the country, with the national figures produced by extrapolating from these.

“On a per capita basis, it’s about one sachet per person per day,” said Froilan Grate, executive director of GAIA’s Asia-Pacific office.

“But on a per year, per city basis, it’s quite shocking. It runs into the millions and billions depending on the place,” he told AFP.

Individual portions of many products, such as coffee and shampoo, are a mainstay of small convenience or “sari-sari” stores catering to largely cash-strapped customers. 

Sachets not just for the poor

However, Mr Grate said even wealthier consumers — who could save cash by buying in bulk — bought the sachets due to their widespread availability.

“If you go to the supermarkets, it’s rare for you to be able to buy coffee in bigger containers, it’s all in sachets,” he said.

The report also found that where local-level plastic bag bans had been enforced, usage dropped dramatically.

It urged the government to “institute a comprehensive national plastic bag ban that promotes reusable bags”.

It also wants regulations on other single-use plastic products and regulation to make companies to redesign products to minimise plastic waste.

As we have previously reported, is a major issue in the Philippines. Alongside , Vietnam and it is among the world’s worst offenders.

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