Public interest environmental groups have thrown their weight behind the latest move by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) to rid the country’s foremost freshwater body of plastic garbage.
The EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Greenpeace Southeast Asia in a common statement asked concerned local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila and Calabarzon (or Region IV-A, which is comprised of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) to take earnest action against plastic pollution in Laguna de Bay.
The groups’ plea for action came in the aftermath of LLDA Board Resolution 406-2011 that directs LGUs to adopt and enforce ordinances banning the use of “thin film, single-use, carry-out, non-biodegradable plastic bags” in order to reduce lake pollution and siltation.
According to the LLDA Board, such action “will greatly contribute to a reduction in the volume of solid wastes generated by local communities and which end up in canals, waterways, rivers, creeks and streams and eventually in the lake.”
“Let us give the Laguna Lake a new lease of life by implementing progressive policies and measures such as zero waste and clean production to prevent and reduce garbage and chemical pollution that we all know is steadily exterminating the lake,” said Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Concerned LGUs should waste no time and enact effective ordinances that will curb plastic pollution and promote ecological practices among their constituents. The clock is ticking fast and Laguna Lake needs our support now more than ever,” stressed Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“However, we urge LGUs not to view biodegradable plastic bags as a total remedy to Laguna Lake’s garbage fix,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
“Ordinances should advance sustainable consumption, including promoting a consumer culture for reusable bags that have lesser environmental impact than disposable plastic bags, bio or non-bio.”
The groups are apprehensive about the seeming push for degradable plastic bags without much thought about the emission of carbon dioxide from decomposing plastics, or the formation of methane, another potent greenhouse gas, if degradable plastics are thrown in dumps or landfills.
Data from the waste audit conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition during a Greenpeace-led cleanup of Laguna Lake in 2009 indicate that plastic bags make up 25 percent of solid waste that is polluting the lake.
According to the LLDA, “the indiscriminate dumping of plastic bags and packaging materials into the environment is exacerbating flooding, deteriorating water quality, shallowing of lakes and rivers, and as such constitutes a serious threat to public health and the integrity of the ecosystems.”
To arrest pervasive plastic pollution, some LGUs within the Laguna Lake region, including Muntinlupa City in Metro Manila, Carmona in Cavite, Kalayaan, Los Baños and Paete in Laguna, and Lucban in Quezon, have adopted ordinances banning plastic bags.
Resolution 406-2011 further urges the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Metro Manila Development Authority and the provincial governments of Laguna and Rizal to ensure that concerned LGUs around Laguna de Bay pass and enforce appropriate ordinances against plastic bags within six (6) months after effectivity of the said decision.