Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay on Saturday called on food and retail business operators in the city to comply with the citywide plastic ban and urge them to use environment-friendly packaging and dining utensils.
“Plastic pollution has become a major environmental concern, especially for our country which has been identified as one of the world’s top sources of plastic waste dumped into the sea. We must all make a deliberate, concerted effort to reduce the volume of non-biodegradable garbage we generate daily,” said Binay.
The city chief executive came up with the statement following the inspection conducted by personnel of the Department of Environmental Services-Plastic Monitoring Task Force on 2,269 retail establishments and found out that 114 of them were non-compliant with the Solid Waste Management Code, particularly its provisions mandating the use of environment-friendly materials.
Binay pointed out that establishments can be a “strong positive influence” in effecting a lifestyle change among consumers that will lessen dependence on disposable plastic in favor of more environment-friendly alternatives.
“If all food and retail establishments in Makati were fully compliant with the plastic ban, tens of thousands of consumers would soon adapt to the shift towards non-plastic or biodegradable materials, and even assimilate it into their day-to-day living,” she said.
According to the latest data from the city Business Permits Office, there are a total of 4,551 registered businesses in the city covered by the plastic ban. These include 1,684 restaurants, 290 canteens, 452 carinderias, 117 bakeries, and 761 fastfood outlets. In the retail sector, there are 227 convenience stores, 968 sari-sari stores, 22 supermarkets, one public market, seven private markets, and 22 shopping malls.
From January to June, PMTF teams under the supervision of DES chief Leopoldo Parumog inspected 544 establishments in District 1, of which 85 were non-compliant. In District 2, some 29 out of 1,696 establishments inspected were found in violation of the code.
From January to December last year, PMTF teams inspected 4,289 establishments throughout the city. Of these, 563 were found to have violated the ordinance.
Enacted in 2003 through City Ordinance No. 2003-095, the code requires the use of environment-friendly materials in food chains, restaurants, supermarkets, eateries, and other similar establishments within the city.
Based on the ordinance, individual violators face a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment ranging from five to 30 days, or both at the discretion of the court. Errant establishments will be fined P5,000, and their owners may also be jailed for a month up to a year.
To date, total fines paid by some 70 errant establishments to the city amount to P350,000.
In 2012, Executive Order No. 007 was issued to amend the initial EO that prescribed the implementing rules and regulations of Sections 21, 22 and 23 of the code covering the “Use of Environment-Friendly Materials”. The order extended the deadline for the nine-year grace period granted to establishments to deplete their plastic inventories, and the plastic ban took effect on June 20, 2013.
The directive also gave specific distinctions between primary and secondary packaging materials, and cited certain products exempted from the plastic ban.
Primary packaging materials are defined as “first level product packaging that contain the item sold,” which are used for wet produce, snack foods, frozen foods, and hardware, among others.
On the other hand, secondary packaging materials are “those used to provide support for wet goods with primary packaging,” usually for the convenience of the handler or customer.
The management of establishments have the option to provide, for free or for a fee, paper bags, cloth bags, basket/woven bags made from biodegradable packaging materials, woven native bags, and other similar materials in lieu of plastic shopping bags.
Among the products exempted from the order are plastic bottled products like bottled water, ice tea, cooking oil, alcohol, mayonnaise, jelly, peanut butter, coco jam, and the like. Also included in the exemption are plastic sachet products like shampoo and conditioner, soap/detergent, noodles; cosmetics; cigarette case; plastic bags used as primary packaging on wet goods with thickness of 15 microns above, and other similar products. Micron (micromillimeter) is the global measurement unit for thickness of plastic bags. Experts say that thinner plastic is more harmful to the environment.
The city also allows the use of plastic dining utensils (forks, spoons, knives) made of biodegradable materials, duly certified by the supplier.
Meanwhile, all covered establishments are also required to place a clearly marked “Plastic Bag Recovery Bin” at entrances and exits that are visible and accessible, for collecting, recycling and disposal of plastic bags.
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