Thursday, June 9, 2011

Manufacturers ask LGUs to defer ordinances banning use of plastic bags | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online

Manufacturers ask LGUs to defer ordinances banning use of plastic bags | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online

MANILA, Philippines — Domestic plastic manufacturers have appealed to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and local government units to defer the implementation of ordinances banning the use of plastic bags without further evaluation on the repercussion of such moves on the economy and the implementation of measures to arrest its environmental impact.

This developed as Muntinlupa City has added to the growing number of local government units that have passed ordinances banning the use of plastic bags in their respective localities.

Muntinlupa City ordinance No. 10-109, “An Ordinance Prohibiting the Use of Plastic Bags on Dry Goods, Regulating its Ulitilization on Wet Goods and Prohibiting the Use of Styrofoam/Styrophor in the City of Muntinlupa and Prescribing the Penalties Thereof’ takes effect on Tuesday, January 18 this year.

Section 11 of the Ordinance also provides that “all business establishments and/or individuals are given one year moratorium to comply from the date from the date of its passage.

Muntinlupa is the latest local government units that passed similar legislations banning the use of plastic bags in their localities. Others LGUs that have implemented the ban are Los Baños, Laguna; Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; Carmona and Cavite while LGUs with pending similar ordinances include Valenzuela City; Quezon City; Manila; and Makati.
Marikina and Antipolio, however, have deferred their respective ordinance on plastic bags for further evaluation and study.

In its letter to Muntinlupa City mayor Aldrin L. San Pedro and the City Council, the Philippine Plastics Industry Association (PPIA) as represented by its counsel Atty. Raymund P. Palad has requested for the deferment of the ordinance’s implementation in lieu of Senate and Congressional Bills (latter currently under consolidation in a technical working group of the Committee on Ecology under Rep. Dan Fernandez) and National Solid Waste Management Commission evaluation of Non Environmentally Acceptable Products as mandated under RA9003 (also with technical working committee to evaluate total environmental impact of plastic bags vs its alternative).

The PPIA further noted that R.A. No. 9003 or the "Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000" already
recognized the declared policy of the State in a adopting a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program to ‘ensure the protection of the public health and environment; and ‘ensure proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practice in ecological waste management.’

To address the concerns of solid wastes, R.A. No. 9003 recognized the need for the establishment of a Material
Recovery Facility (MRF) in every barangay or cluster of barangays to ensure proper storage and disposal of plastic materials.

In its letter to DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, PPIA president Crispian Lao said that while the implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area has eliminated the tariff distortion between imported finished and raw plastic materials as tariffs are brought to zero.

However, the lack of supply in ASEAN has forced local producers to source their raw materials from non-ASEAN countries such as Korea, Taiwan, India, and the Middle East where they are charged with most-favored nation tariff of 15 percent as against zero tariff for finished plastic products from ASEAN.

The PPIA had also submitted its position to the Tariff Commission, which is still undergoing review on MFN tariffs, to correct the tariff distortion and provide relief to the industry.

In addition, the PPIA has complained to Domingo what they called as a technicality imposed by the National Food Authority in Legazpi City not to allow the use of PP Woven Sacks as part of their bidding criteria.

The PPIA has acknowledged though that plastic bags do end up in waterways such as the esteros, sewers
and canals or eventually ends up in the ocean that may cause havoc on marine life.

The industry has even agreed to being regulated (giving up ultra thin single use plastic bags below 15 microns.

“On the other hand, these problems are not caused by the product itself, but rather on the indiscriminate disposal and the poor implementation of our existing laws on anti-littering and solid waste management where segregation aimed at increasing the recycling rate through diversion is the goal,” Lao said.

Lao also pointed out that the plastic bag sector of the Philippine Plastics Downstream Manufacturing Industry represented by PPIA is composed of small and medium enterprises.

In fact, the main plastic exports in the country are in the form of plastic bags to countries like Japan and the United States. This sector alone has investments amounting to millions of pesos and employment estimates at 175,000 strong.

Lao added that advanced countries like Europe, Hong kong and Taiwan who implemented a ban or levy on plastic bags saw their respective industries affected by at least 50%.

“We believe that there will be a graver effect to our local industry given our economic condition and the poor purchasing power of consumers. We strongly believe that without a viable alternative for a sanitary way of disposing our household waste, such a move may later pose other health and environmental issues,” he said.

Lao further said the industry has been advocating plastic bags recovery for recycling not only to strengthen the local recycling industry, but also to create more jobs inclusive of those from the informal sector.

PPIA continually implement programs to increase the recycling rate of plastics with focus of plastic bags.

It earlier partnered with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), DTI-BoI and Department of Environment and Natural Resources National Solid Waste Management Commission (DENR-NSWMC) to establish Recycling Guidelines for Plastics and embarked on a pilot project for mobile collection and recycling in 2008. With the said project.

“We proved that we can recover plastic bags at the household level with the rest of the recyclables and they are now linked to the recyclers,” he said.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crusade Against Plastic

Growingly citizens around the world are becoming conscious of the ecological issues surrounding plastic bags. Considering their somewhat peaceful appearance, the impact of plastic bags on the surroundings can be disturbing.

"MANILA, Philippines—Officials of Muntinlupa have
 taken a monumental step in protecting the environment by
banning plastic bags and polystyrene in the city."

Look at the following:

Good to know!!!
Muntinlupa takes giant step!

MANILA, Philippines—Officials of Muntinlupa have
 taken a monumental step in protecting the environment by
banning plastic bags and polystyrene in the city.

This is an encouraging boost that we in the environmental
 movement have been waiting for. In all our engagements
 with local government units, every time we present the
adverse effects of plastic bags on health and the environment,
 the common knee-jerk response is that the initiative to ban
 plastic bags should come from the national government.

Relying on our national government may not be our best
option because of the uncertainty of passing ecologically
 sound bills in our legislature.

Good precedent
Thus, the example set by Muntinlupa, among others,
establishes a good precedent and a clear statement that
, with political will, a ban is doable.
(Los Baños in Laguna, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, Burgos in
Pangasinan and Odiongan in Romblon have also taken
 moves against the use of plastic bags.)

A positive national impact of the ban is that it opens up
 livelihood opportunities for producing baskets, bayong
 and other organic, reusable bags using katsa or available
 indigenous materials.

Both our urban and rural populations will benefit from this
 opportunity since raw materials are available where they
 are: discarded paper and cloth in the city; abaca, buri, and
 other plant fibers in provinces.

Indirectly, this may reduce the urge to migrate to cities
since a source of income becomes available in the provinces.
Similarly, it will open doors to discussions on how people
 should be stewards of the environment, which provides their
 basic raw materials.

In 2009, the United Nations Environment Program executive
 director, Achim Steiner, expressed the need to ban plastic
 bags, highlighting the seriousness ofplastic pollution and
 the urgency of taking action against the material.

“Single-use plastic bags which choke marine life, should
 be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere,” Steiner says.
“There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore,
 anywhere,” he adds.

Trillion bags
Every year, around 500 billion to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide, with over one million bags used every minute.
Plastic pollution from Asia, the Pacific and North America is sucked into the North Pacific Gyre, an area between Hawaii and the United States mainland.

Food chain
The pollution mingles with sea life, choking and ensnaring marine wildlife and disturbing every level of the food chain.
Now estimated to be twice the size of Texas, 80 percent of the plastic debris come directly from land. Necropsies have showed that many marine creatures had stomachs full of plastic trash that caused their deaths.
Plastic bags and plastic fragments can cause blockage of digestive or intestinal tracts of marine creatures resulting in more than 100,000 deaths of seabirds, turtles and mammals annually.
Plastic litter in the countryside can be eaten by grazing domestic and wild animals and can eventually enter the food chain.

Many plastic items contain toxic chemicals such as biocides and plasticizers that could be released if the items break down or are eaten. Many chemical additives to plastic goods have negative effects on the environment and human health, such as the following:
Direct toxicity, as in the cases of lead, cadmium and mercury
Carcinogens, as in the case of diethylhexyl phthalate, a plasticizer used to make PVC pliable
Endocrine disruption, which can lead to cancer, birth defects, immune system suppression and developmental problems in children.
On the other hand, polystyrene, the main component of Styrofoam, can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and can cause dizziness and unconsciousness. It migrates into food and is stored in body fat. It can cause lymphatic and hematopoietic cancer. Styrofoams, like plastic bags, are nonbiodegradable.
(Sonia S. Mendoza is the chair of Mother Earth Foundation and a member of Task Force Plastic, EcoWaste Coalition.)