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.