Green Groups Push for Take Back System for Plastic Garbage

(Photos by Gigie Cruz)

After observing last Sunday the International Plastic Bag-Free Day at Quezon Memorial Circle where green groups surrounded the landmark with used plastic bag chain, organizers are now vexed by the plastics bags they successfully collected.

“Now we have a significant stockpile of used plastic bags at our office and it gives us mixed feelings,” revealed Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We are sad that there’s just way too much of it, and at the same time we are glad that we diverted them from waterways, landfills, cement kilns and incinerators. But the question is: now what?” he noted.

“Our predicament actually emphasizes the pressing need to put in place a proper take-back mechanism where producers are required to recover the plastic discards,” campaigner Paeng Lopez of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said.

A take-back mechanism along with phasing-out both regular and degradable plastic bags, promoting organic reusable bags, and taxing plastic bags are some of the fundamental features of a national law banning plastic bags that the green groups are urging Congress to enact.

More than 300 participants from almost 50 groups, including many from Cavite, Nueva Ecija and Rizal, took part in the plastic bag chain event that put a spotlight on the pervasive plastic pollution throughout the country.

Some of the notable participants include Miss Earth Philippines 2011 Athena Mae Imperial and her court, MMDA Vice-Chairman Alex Cabanilla, Muntinlupa City Councilor Raul Corro, and Atty. Agnes Baylen from the Office of Congresswoman Lani Mercado-Revilla.

In a statement sent to GAIA, Cong. Mercado-Revilla expressed her solidarity with all the participants “in bringing about a plastic-free Philippines.”

Speaking form personal experience, she mentioned how in taking part in the 25th International Coastal Clean-Up last year she saw the “proliferation of plastic bags and other products in the Bacoor Bay coast and how these plastic products destroyed the ecological environment in Bacoor Bay.”

This is consistent with the discards survey conducted in 2006 and 2010 by EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace, and GAIA, which 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.

“We hope that together, our concern for our environment and that of humankind shall convince our fellow men and women to view plastic bags as an ecological menace,” Mercado-Revilla said.

“(I hope that) the millions of pesos that the plastic industry has generated in the economy shall not prevent them from taking action now,” she emphasized.

Aside from pushing for a comprehensive plastic bag law, the green groups also cited LGUs who have initiated the phase out and ban of plastic bags in their jurisdictions.

“Plastic pollution is indiscriminate – it affects all of us, private and public individuals, rich and poor, everyone, so we should stand united and firm in addressing it through a phase out,” the green groups said.