Dr. Fabian Dayrit, an academician of National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), pointed out that the 3R’s campaign is not enough to manage plastic issues, and must be accompanied with another R – redesign.
During a symposium on managing plastic held yesterday at the Finster Auditorium, Dayrit, who is also an Emeritus Professor of Ateneo de Manila University, revisited the relevance and effectivity of the ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’ campaign and how it does not fully relate to the multi-faceted issues of plastics.
After explaining the basic concept of the 3R’s, Dayrit proceeded to specific classifications of plastics. Contrary to the knowledge of most people, plastics are classified specifically based on their chemical properties as what Dayrit explained.
“It’s rare that people are using real leather because of the expense. So, they use artificial leather because it’s affordable. And it’s a lifestyle thing. There are many things that we cannot do with a lifestyle if it were not for plastic. So, kung walang plastic, wala tayong cellphone, wala tayong computer,” he said.
Following the discussion on the diverse classification of plastics, Dayrit presented six questions that tackled plastic issues.
One of the questions raised was whether paper bags are better than single-use plastic bags. A student volunteered to answer the said question and answered that it’s not. The student got it right, as what Dayrit elaborated that “paper bags are not an ideal alternative to plastic bags because it’s not reusable and it demands the consumption of trees and clean water for its production.”
While describing that the 3R’s as “Cradle to Grave”, Dayrit emphasized that one ‘R’ should be added to the 3R’s, and that ‘R’ stands for ‘Redesign’. The 4R’s now is said to be the “Circular Economy”.
“So, the polymers and the plastic have to be redesigned so that they are inherently recyclable,” Dayrit stressed but added that it’s a big technical challenge.
Dayrit further explained that the plastic crisis needs a multi-sectoral and global approach that includes policy-making, regulators, local government units, consumers, stakeholder governance, research and development, waste management and recycling industries, and chemical and plastics industries.
“Mapuslan Pa: A Plastic Waste Symposium” was first of the series sponsored and organized by the Ecoteneo and the science departments.