PHILIPPINES – An ordinance that would regulate the use of plastic bags in Malabon City in Metro Manila has been withdrawn for further review “because it has many loopholes”.
Ordinance No. 01-2013 titled ““An ordinance prohibiting the use of plastic bags [for] dry goods, regulating its utilization on wet goods and prohibiting the use of Styrofoam/styrophor in the city of Malabon and prescribing penalties thereof,” has been remanded to the Malabon City Council for amendments.
The ordinance was enacted by the city council on 8 January 2013 because it said that flooding still occurred due to the clogging of drains and waterways despite efforts by the city to segregate waste materials. It was then signed and approved by Mayor Antolin Oreta III shortly after. The legislation was made public in late March and early April and was scheduled to take full effect later this year.
Now, Mayor Oreta says that the ordinance has been temporarily withdrawn, as it did not address the concerns of plastic manufacturers conducting businesses in the city even though meetings had been held with them.
“It’s (the ordinance) not being implemented yet because it has many loopholes,” said Oreta. “Malabon is a hub for plastic manufacturers too. Many plastic manufacturers are based in the city. We just can’t shut them down immediately. We want this done gradually.
“Aside from the fact that there are many plastic manufacturers here, not all plastics are bad. We need to determine the types that we need. We are near the fish port so we just can’t ban the use of all plastics.”
According to the Malabon Business Permit and Licensing Office, there are 30 companies in the city producing a range of plastics in the city, including retail shopping bags, Styrofoam packaging, and plastic containers and pails.
Henry Gaw, president of the Polystyrene Packaging Council of the Philippines (PPCS) welcomed the Malabon City government’s decision: “We requested amendments to the ordinance because, in the original, we saw inconsistency in the wordings in the ordinance, especially on whether they are prohibiting or just regulating the use of these products.”
According to Gaw, consumers should be allowed to decide which packaging materials they want to use, be it plastic or others: “We campaign for regulation to allow whatever material they prefer, but there should be recovery of the materials for recycling in place.”
Malabon City anti-plastic ordinance
Ordinance No. 01-2013 bans businesses from using plastic bags as packaging for dry goods, as well as Styrofoam containers for food.
While plastic can be used to package wet goods, the material is only allowed for the primary packaging.
The legislation also dictates the procedure for plastic waste disposal. Plastic packaging used for wet goods must be rinsed and dried properly, before theya re sent to one of the many material recycling facilities set up in each of the city’s villages.
During its introductory phase, the ordinance does provide for a six-month grace period for businesses to comply with the regulations, during which the Malabon City Environment and Natural Office will not penalize offenders. However, during that period, every Friday will be declared “Plastic-Free Days” and businesses caught violating the legislation may be penalized.
Penalties for businesses found violating the ordinance range from a US$22 (P1,000) fine, a warning and attendance in a seminar for the first offense, to a US$112 (P5,000) fine and cancelation of their license to operate for one year for the third offense.
Individuals found violating the ordinance will face penalties ranging from a US$11 – US$33 (P500 to a P1,500) fine, community service and a lecture, depending on the number of offenses committed.