Supporting Manila’s Plastic Bag Ban, Groups Demand a National Legislation Against Plastic Bags

03 July 2013, Manila City. Enact a nationwide ban on plastic
bags now!

This was the collective statement made by more than 500 students, school
officials, parent-teacher officers, beauty queens, environmentalists and
supporters from the national and local government who gathered today at Jose P.
Laurel High School in Tondo Manila, to mark the 4th International Plastic
Bag-Free Day.

Bearing reusable bags, bayongs, banners and placards calling, among others, for
a nationwide ban and subsequent phase out of plastic bags, members of the
EcoWaste Coalition led the group in marching along the vicinity of J. P. Laurel
High School to hammer home their urgent message for the national government to
act decisively against the use, sale and distribution of plastic bags.

The timely activity drew support from the city government of Manila headed by
President Mayor Joseph Estrada as part of his administration’s environmental
agenda to combat climate change.

In his speech delivered last Sunday as he took his oath as Mayor of Manila,
Estrada promised to “start cleaning our waterways to mitigate flooding; we will
do this in line with a clear climate change adaptation and disaster risk
reduction mitigation program,” as he reminded Manileños that, “we must learn
our lessons from last year,” citing the city’s notorious flooding problem
exacerbated by monsoon rains or Habagat.

Meanwhile, the group supports the looming citywide ban on plastic bags and
polystyrene containers that will take effect starting September 2013 in Manila.

Manila City Ordinance 8282, once implemented, will ban the use of plastic bags
for dry goods and regulate their use for wet goods, and altogether bans
polystyrene (Styrofoam) as container for food, produce and other products.

According to Councilor Numero Lim, one of the decree’s sponsors, “the ordinance
will also prohibit business establishments from offering, selling, or using
plastic bags as primary or secondary packaging for dry goods, and forbids
barangay collection of discarded plastics unless these are pre-cleaned and

“It’s about time that the city of Manila enforces bans on the distribution and
use of plastic bags to stop the nonchalant disposal of these materials and
protect what remains of our environment,” Coun. Lim added.

In 2006, 2010, and 2011, waste audits conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition,
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Mother Earth
Foundation and other eco-groups revealed plastic products – led by plastic bags
– as the highest garbage contributor in terms of volume in Manila Bay and
Laguna Lake.

Discards survey conducted by the same group in 2006 and 2010 showed plastic
bags comprising 51.4 and 27.7 percent, respectively, of the detritus in Manila

As of today, the group counted at least 90 LGUs all over the country that have
similar ordinances in place banning or regulating plastic bags, with several
localities following suit before the end of the year.

“Plastic bags are the embodiment of an antiquated, throw-away mentality that we
need to urgently address. Through our action today, we ask the national
government to enact laws and policies that will reinforce the initiatives of
visionary LGUs and eventually wean us from plastic bags,” stated Sonia Mendoza
of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Head on

“By outlawing the use of plastic bags and other non-ecologically sound
packaging materials, we substantially reduce our waste generation, thereby,
cutting waste management costs, and lessen related environmental risks such as
flooding and marine pollution from happening as plastic bags usually end up
littering the streets and dumpsites, at the same time, polluting our waterways
such as rivers and seas,” she said.

Mendoza articulated that “recycling plastic bags does not necessarily reduce
wastes as it just manages the plastic bags that have already been created.”

“Recycled plastics still make its way back to the consumers’ buy-use-dispose
loop, thus, adding more plastics in the environment. What we need to do is to
avoid its usage in the first place,” Mendoza suggested.

The group added that banning the use of plastic bags will help boost the demand
for locally-made bayongs and cloth bags, which supports local cottage
industries, thereby creating more employment and business opportunities in both
urban and rural areas as raw materials for these products are readily available
all over the country. It is now a good time for LGUs and businesses to support
and invest in the production of bayongs and cloth bags.

Wearing tiaras made from mini-bayongs with slogans signifying their aversion against
plastic bags, Miss Philippines Earth 2013 Angelee Claudett delos Reyes led
beauty titlists Kimverlyn Suiza (Miss Philippines Air 2013), Nancy Leonard
(Miss Philippines Water 2013), Alma Cabasal (Miss Philippines Fire 2013) and
Bernadette Mae Aguirre (Miss Philippines Eco-Tourism 2013) in advocating the
use of plastic bag alternatives such as baskets, bayongs and katsa bags.

For her part, Miss Philippines Earth 2013 Angelee Claudett delos Reyes noted
that “already we are awash with sad news of clogging and flooding just as the
rainy season begun, and this should compel our national government to address
the unrestricted use and disposal of plastic bags that haunt us year after year
after year.”

Comprehensively, a nationwide plastic bag ban is both a climate change
mitigation measure and a disaster risk reduction response as it intends
ultimate phase out of all kinds of plastic bags, eases discards collection
mechanisms and recycling, and supports LGUs in their waste management schemes
as mandated by R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Participating groups of the 4th International Plastic Bag-Free Day include the
EcoWaste Coalition, Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, MALAYA, Manila Federation of PTA, Miss
Earth Foundation, and Mother Earth Foundation.

Senator Cynthia Villar sent representatives to the event.

Local government officials and representatives who participated in the event
include District II Councilor Numero Lim, local barangay officials and a
representative of DepEd-Manila Superintendent Dr. Ponciano Menguito.