PHILIPPINES – Local environmentalists are pushing for a nationwide extension of municipal and city bans on the use of plastic bags in the Philippines.
In the first week of July, environmental group EcoWaste Coalition led a march of more than 500 students, school officials, parent-teacher officers, beauty queens and environmentalists to observe the 4th “International Plastic Bag-Free Day” and call on the national government to enact laws banning plastic bags all over the country.
To date, about 90 cities and towns have passed ordinances banning or regulating the use of plastic bags. A number of local government units (LGUs) are reportedly poised to follow suit before the end of this year.
In September 2013, a Manila-wide ban on plastic bags and styrofoam containers in Manila – the Manila City Ordinance 8282 - is also set to be implemented. This legislation will ban the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulate their use for wet goods, and completely ban the use of styrofoam as container for food, produce and other products.
“We ask the national government to enact laws and policies that will reinforce the initiatives of visionary LGUs and eventually wean us from plastic bags,” said Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Head on Plastics.
“Plastic bags are the embodiment of an antiquated, throw-away mentality that we need to urgently address.
“By outlawing the use of plastic bags and other non-ecologically sound packaging materials, we substantially reduce our waste generation, thereby cutting waste management costs, and lessen related environmental risks such as flooding and marine pollution,” she added
Mendoza said that the recycling of plastic bags is not enough: “(Recycling) just manages the plastic bags that have already been created. Recycled plastics still make their way back to the consumers’ buy-use-dispose loop, thus adding more plastics to the environment. What we need to do is to avoid its usage in the first place.”
She added that plastic bags bans would also help boost demand for locally made bayong and cloth bags, support local cottage industries and create more employment and business opportunities.
“It is now a good time for LGUs and businesses to support and invest in the production of bayong and cloth bags,” she said.