Aiming for plastic-free PH
And since it has been an extensive issue not just here, but worldwide, local governments in the country have taken their steps to defend Mother Earth. There is a widely spreading trend now in the Philippines, that of cities being Plastic Free. Such cities no longer use plastic straws or plastic bags, but rather paper – such as paper straws, paper bags, brown bags, eco bags and the like. Local governments from these cities have made a “Plastic Free” ordinance to be followed by their people. Establishments and businesses around those communities are also obliged to follow. In line with this, Senator Loren Legarda filed Senate Bill 2759, also known as the Total Plastic Bag Ban Act of 2011 aiming for the total ban of the usage of non-biodegradable plastic bags in the entire country. The bill, however, is still pending in the Senate. To date, there are 15 cities, such as Makati, Quezon City, Pasig, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, and Pasay to name a few, that have ordinances banning the use of plastics.
Some municipalities in selected provinces were also inspired by this. For the record, Los Baños, Laguna had already been doing the plastic ban for almost more than a decade now. It was in June of 2008 when the Sangguniang Bayan of the town prohibited the use of plastic bags and styrofoam as packaging of wet and dry goods in the city. On Dec. 8, 2017, the local government of El Nido, Palawan passed an ordinance for the ban of plastics. So if you happen to ride a plane going to El Nido, your plastic thrash will be collected by the flight attendants even before you land at the Lio Airport. Cebu City also bats for the ban of plastics as a memorandum was signed by Cebu Mayor Tomas Osmeña banning the use of plastic bags, straws, cups, plates, utensils, and styrofoam containers in government offices. They also banned the use of plastic trash twice per week for the entire city. Year 2011 was when the city of Bacolod passed an ordinance to prohibit the use of plastic sando bags for packaging. In November of last year, the ordinance included the ban of plastic straws and stirrers.
Meanwhile in Negros Oriental, an executive order was handed out to the entire province prohibiting the use of shopping bags, drinking straws, bottles, and styrofoam containers in all government offices, hospitals, and public markets. Penalties to establishments that will use plastic sando bags to their customers under the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance include a warning for the first offense, a P1,000-fine for the second offense, a P3,000-peso penalty with an eight-hour community service for the third offense, and a P5,000-peso fine with a six-month suspension of business permit for the fourth offense. Some towns in the province of Pangasinan have also followed the total plastic ban rule. Rosales, Labrador, San Carlos, Bayambang, Villasis, Asingan, Binalonan, Laoac, Alcala, Umingan, Bautista, and Natividad forbid the use of plastic materials in dry goods’ packages. Business entities such as convenience stores and grocery stores in Siargao Island don’t use plastic bags as a policy last February 2018. Violators will be sent to jail, with their business permits withdrawn. Next to the rehabilitation of Boracay, the local government has provided a strict rule for the environment under Municipal Ordinance No. 386. Implemented is the barring of the use of disposable plastic items by hotels, resorts, and restaurants in Malay, Aklan. As the time goes by and more cities follow the footsteps of those advocating the total plastic bag ban, there is hope that sooner or later, the whole country will be plastic free.