Eco-Groups Push for a National Plastic Bag Ban in Observance of International Plastic Bag-Free Day

Green groups and supporters from local government units, beauty queens and church groups today converge at Quezon City’s Mega-Q Mart to celebrate the International PlasticBag Free Day.

Bearing reusable bags and placards, some 150 members of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network advocating for the proper implementation of RA 9003 or the Ecologial Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, bought goods and simultaneously “froze” in their respective positions for three minutes at the sound of siren signals.

“We held a ‘freeze’mob to symbolize how the national law banning plastic bags have frozen in the legislature,” pointed out Sonia Mendoza, Task Force Plastics Head of EcoWaste Coalition. “It is past time our national government reanimate and enact the pending law banning plastic bags, and unite with forward thinking LGUs. Local bans are in all sense growing with Makati joining the movement and Muntinlupa taking the ban to another level, but they remain to be local,” she adds.

As of last count there are more than 25 LGUs that have banned or regulated plastic bags.

Zero Waste Campaigner Christina Vergara of the EcoWaste Coalition stated that, “With the Chief Justice Impeachment Trial, we understand that our legislature had to deal with urgent matters, and now that it is over it is time our hardworking lawmakers finally impeach the bag.”

For years, zero waste advocates have been calling for a national plastic bag ban that will:

∙ phase-out all kinds of plastic bags

∙ promote reusable bags using natural fibers

∙ espouse take-back/collection mechanisms and recycling

∙ support LGUs in their waste management initiatives;

∙ impose environmental levy on plastic bags; and

∙ for accountability purposes, label so-called “degradable” plastic bags to show name of manufacturers, manufacturing date, and the degradation period of the bag.

In a broad sense, a plastic bag ban is both a climate change mitigation measure and a disaster risk reduction response.

Recently, China came out with a statement [i] through its National Development and Reform Commission that says their plastic bag ban launched four years ago has helped the nation save 4.8 million tons of oil ~ or an equivalent of 6.8 million tons of standard coal.

“The ban has played a positive role in energy and resources savings, environmental protection, and addressing climate change,” said Li Jing, vice chief of the energy saving and environment protection department under the NDRC.

LGUs that banned the bag also report of remarkable reduction of flooding in their areas most notable of which was in Muntinlupa.

For her part, Miss Philippines Earth 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz added that, “‘Convenience’ had been our convenient excuse for putting up with plastic bags but we never really know how unwieldy plastic bags are until we see the harm they bring. Not only are we harming our urban landscapes, our water bodies, and sea creatures, we are harming ourselves in the process too.”

To hammer the message home, the EcoWaste Coalition introduced a happy “family”of eco-lovers comprised of Mang Bayong, Aling Katsa, Nonoy Timba and NenengBasket during the event.

Discards survey conducted in 2006 and 2010 by EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace, and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives found plastic bags comprising 51.4 and 27.7 percent respectively of the flotsam in Manila Bay. Plastics in general, including plastic bags, made up 76.9 and 75.55 percent respectively.

Annually, the world produces 200 million tonnes of plastics. Using conservative estimates, if bags have an average weight of 32.5 g and size of 900 cm2, we will be able to encircle the earth more than 41,000 times.

Participating groups of the International Plastic Bag-Free Day include the EcoWaste Coalition, Asilo de laMilagrosa-Cebu, Ban Toxics!, Bangon Kalikasan, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, De La Salle University -Dasmariňas, De La Salle Santiago Zobel, Diocese of Caloocan Ecology Ministry, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Ministry on Ecology – St. Joseph the Worker (GMA), Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Piglas Kabataan, Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, University of Cebu College of Law and Zero Waste Philippines.

Local government officials and representatives participating in the event include Councilor Numero Lim of Manila City; representatives from the Office of Mayor Herbert Bautista and Councilor Doray Delarmente of Quezon City; Department of Environmental Sanitation Center of Muntinlupa City; Department of Environmental Services of Makati City; and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

[i] http://english.people.com.cn/202936/7853299.html

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