Quezon City: PLASTIC BAGS Ban – Not the Solution to Protect the Environment

Quezon City Regulates Plastic Bags Use
Public sees it as total eradication of plastics

Banning of Plastic Bags in Reality Harms The Environment

Manila, Philippines
Source: The Local Government of Quezon City
“The Quezon City government passed two environment protection ordinances, the SP-2140 and SP-2130, which aims to effectively regulate the use of plastic bags in the city last April 2012. SP-2140 or the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance regulates the use of plastic bags and establishing an environmental fee for its use. While SP-2130 mandates all business establishments that uses plastic bags to display conspicuously in their stores a notice that encourages their customers to protect the environment by bringing their own recyclable/reusable bags.

As of now, an estimated volume of 719 cu.m or 45 10-wheeler truckload of plastic bags in QC waste stream every single day. The single-plastic bags and their typical disposal create significant litter problems that clog up canals and sewerage systems that cause floods. The free distribution of these plastic bags likewise result a throw-away attitude among the users.

To address that, the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance will enforce a Plastic Recovery System Fee that charges and collect a fix amount of two pesos (P2.00) per plastic bag used regardless of its size. The collected fee will be part of Green fund that is intended to fund various initiatives for the benefit of the environment.
Exempted from this ordinance is the use of plastic bags with no handles, holes or strings that are commonly used for wrapping unpacked fresh foods and cooked foods.

Reusable Bag users will be given incentives in a point system scheme, giving points that can later on be used for purchase, and Green Lane, a special counter for customers with reusable bags.
The Quezon City government hosted a forum last July 6, 2012 on policies and measures being implemented by the administration of Mayor Herbert Bautista to reduce the use of plastic bags, part of the efforts to reduce the volume of plastic waste produced by the city.

During the forum, highlights of the drafts of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the two ordinances were presented. The IRR drafts were formulated by the city’s Environmental Protection and Waste Management (EPWMD), Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO), Market Development and Administration Department (MDAD), Barangay Operations Center (BOC) and the Liga ng mga Barangay. The same departments will also implement the IRR once approved. The EPWMD also serves as the lead agency for the task force on plastic bags reduction.

Also during the forum, a representative from the SM Group of Companies said that QC’s ordinance on plastic use regulation, is the most pro-active among similar ordinances by local government units.

QC government currently implements the ban in using plastic bags and Styrofoam in key city offices and hospitals particularly the QC City Hall complex, Novaliches District Center, Quezon City General Hospital and Novaliches District Hospital.”

Banning of Plastic Bags in Reality Harms The Environment

The truth behind implementation of a ban on the use of plastics in several areas in the Philippines is not that really favorable the way it should be for the environment, in fact some business groups (leaders of the plastics industry) stated the situation could bring more harm than good.

The plastic ban is ill advised and offers no benefit to the people. It is just politically appealing. It is also bad actually for the environment because it results in more paper use which requires the cutting of trees, and the use of more water and power for production,” said industry spokesman Crispin Lao, a former president of the Philippine Plastic Industry Association.

Based from a full-page advertisement in major newspapers, 14 business groups, including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Philippine Industry and Philippine Exporters Confederation, broadcast that the environment is actually worse off with a ban on plastics.

The plastic ban does not protect the environment at all,” the ad read. “It leads to more paper use which means more trees cut and higher water and power use. The environment is worse off.”

Case study:
Using paper bags is more harmful to the environment because 17 trees need to be cut to make one ton of paper and one gallon of water is needed to make one paper bag, the same gallon of water can make up to 116 plastic bags.

Producing a paper bag uses 200% more energy and generates double the carbon emission than producing a plastic bag.

With more cut trees and denuded forests, with more water and energy used, more carbon emissions and more trash. The plastic ban actually harms the environment,” the group said.

Lao described that plastic bags have been blamed for clogging sewers and causing floods in the metropolis and this has led several cities, such as Quezon City, Pasay City, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Marikina, Las Piñas and Manila, to pass measures banning or regulating the use of plastic bags.

But many areas in Muntinlupa and other areas are still flooded up to now despite their plastic ban. The real reason is our refusal to responsibly dispose of our trash, aside from our old sewers, lost manholes and a broken garbage collection and disposal system,” he said.

Lao said the industry supports the approach of Quezon City which seeks to regulate and not ban the use of plastic.

The Quezon City  move is not a ban. It still allows the public to choose plastic or something else like paper. So if, for instance, you are buying a kilo of rice, you will not be forced to use paper because you can opt for a plastic bag, which is more convenient in this case,” Lao said.

Quezon City local government’s City Ordinance seek its community to decide and build a habit of  recycling and re-using bags may it be plastic, paper, canvass or cloth material.An approach to a proper waste management, Lao added,  “this is the more scientific and enlightened approach as done elsewhere in the world because plastic is completely recyclable.”

Even if we ban plastic throughout the Philippines, we will still have floods and we will still have a lot of trash because we refuse to see the obvious solution which unfortunately means each of us must work and do our share. The ban is our escape but it will not work,” he said.

As a concerned citizen, I personally advised my community to make use of bayong, basket, the string basket (we call it butas-butas), we are bringing up the old tradition, besides this is what our older folks used to have back when plastic was not economical. But then the floods and other natural calamities cannot be blame alone with the rampant use of plastic bags and materials. There are other factors that causes it, there  are illegal logging, mining, waste disposal, and even government corruption that causes all the these problems.  The next time you heard the person besides you says something like “bawal ang plastic” (plastics are not allowed) you can add some common sense and speak your mind with, we are asked to recycle ad re-use it and throw them properly.

Related topics:
Quezon City: Solid Waste Segregation [City Ordinance SP-1701, Series of 2006]
The Need for Waste Segregation
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic

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