Plastic bag ban in RP not advantageous : business bloc
Fourteen local business groups have put out full-page advertisements in various major newspapers in the Philippines on the last day of August to castigate the ban of plastics in the country, asserting that the ban may do more harm than good to the environment.
The advertisements stated, “The plastic ban does not protect the environment at all. It leads to more paper use, which means more trees cut and higher water and power use. The environment is worse off.”
Citing some information, they said that 17 trees have to be cut in order to produce paper, hence not making it eco-friendly to ban plastic bags and use paper bags instead. They also added that it can make use of more water since a gallon of water has to be consumed just to produce 1 paper bag which on the other hand, can produce already 116 plastic bags.
They also added that the ban will only boost the volume of waste because paper bags are 600% heaviery than plastic bags. “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.”, they said.
Loss of job was another factor being emphasised . They said that a number of workers will be laid off in the near term that the plastics ban is implemented. About 200,000 workers from the plastic industry will be affected, thus increasing the unemployment rate in the country, they averred.
The government should focus on strengthening the implementation of the Waste Segregation Law. The bloc said that improper disposal of waste is the real culprit to the floodings in many areas in the country , particularly in Metro Manila, adding that proper waste disposal also entail clearing the waterways. In short, a well implemented waste segregation policy will save our forests, reduce power and water consumption, save jobs and create a robust recycling industry.
On the other hand, the proponents of the plastic bag ban have already anticipated these contra reactions. Councilor Em Ang, the author of the local ordinance in banning plastic bags in Quezon City said that while he is not specific in using paper bags as alternative to plastic bags, he suggests for cloth bags to be more viable option.
At the rate things are going, more cities and municipalities in the country are now considering the total ban of plastics bag, as opposed to just regulating its use.
Senator Loren Legarda, an environmentalist and Chair of the Climate Change Oversight Committee of the Senate filed the Senate Bill 2759 or the Total Plastic Ban Act of 2011 in the Philippines which, if approved, will prevent all department stores, restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets and retail establishments from using non-biodegradable plastic bags.
The plastics ban came about when the Philippine Congress signed the House Bill 4840, also known as the Plastic Bag Regulation Act of 2011 that prohibit use of plastic bags in business establishments such as grocery stores, likewise requiring them to provide their clients with biodegradable bags with the marking, “Please return to any store for recycling.”
The bill aims to regulate the use of plastic bags country-wide to establish a recovery system. It also behests stores to place an accessible and visible plastic bag recovery bin.
With this Plastic Bag Regulation Act of 2011 in the Philippines, Local Government Units (LGUs) are bestowed to lower the percentage of plastic bag consumption, thus leading to low plastic bag waste. They are also mandated to collect, recycle and properly dispose the plastic bags that are recovered from each store in their local area.
But instead of partial use, many LGUs are passing ordinances to totally prohibit the use of plastic bags and cups as well as polyesthyrene foam (styro foam)
Amongst the areas where the ban is enforced, the Province of Albay has come up with a creative option for plastics. Malls, food chains, grocery stores and other business establishments in the province have been advised to use the locally hand-made woven native bags called “bayong” which promotes the homegrown product as well as protect the environment, officials in the province opined.