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Plastic manufacturers claim paper bags unsafe, too


MANILA, Philippines—As more and more cities and commercial establishments shun plastic bags, the plastic industry launched an offensive against its alternatives: the brown bags and newspapers.

Crispian Lao, the spokesman for the plastic industry, said on Sunday that wrapping products and foods in brown bags and recycled newspapers would be unsafe for consumers, a statement that environmental groups said was “inaccurate.”

Lao said, “We are raising this fact not to bring down paper but to point out the unintended and costly consequences of the plastic ban, which in most instances has denied the public a cheap food-grade wrapping material.”

He noted that brown paper and newspapers, aside from using waste paper that could have been picked up from anywhere, contain chemicals from production that could contaminate food.

“That is why you will notice that if you order french fries or pizza, the food itself is not in direct contact with the brown paper or carton packaging. In the case of pizza, wax paper holds the pizza underneath but the top cover might still get in contact with the food unless, as some outlets do, a plastic item is provided to hold it up,” he said.

Lao’s statement came as local government units in Metro Manila have started to prohibit the use of plastic bags in wet markets and other commercial establishments to reduce the rubbish that clog up the streets and cause floods during rainy days.

National agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Metro Manila Development Authority have also called for a metro-wide ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam in packaging and handling items and food products.

According to the MMDA, the metropolis generates 8,400 to 8,600 tons of trash per day, accounting for about 25 percent of the country’s daily solid waste generation of some 35,000 tons.

In the Senate, Sen. Miriam Santiago has filed a bill that aims to ban plastic bags regardless of their composition, either regular or degradable plastic bags while promoting the use of reusable bags.

But Lao said plastic bags, which he called food-safe and considered kinder to the environment, should not be blamed for the city’s trash problems.

“Our irresponsible ways of disposing of plastic and other waste is to blame, not plastic. We are the problem; we are also the solution,” he said.

Local governments, he said, must instead enforce waste segregation. “Banning plastic misses the problem completely. It is an egregious mismatch between problem and solution.”

Meanwhile, the Ecowaste Coalition scoffed at Lao’s arguments for plastic use, saying they were “inaccurate.” Paeng Lopez, a campaigner for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, said plastic bags have been more dangerous to the environment than paper.

Plastic products are made from petroleum, a dwindling natural resource requiring carbon-intensive extraction, transportation, and refining, according to Lopez.

He said many plastic products were not food-grade and were made with hundreds of chemical compounds that the industry refused to divulge.

Lopez said “there is no point in pitting paper to plastics.” Ecowaste, he said, has been calling for the use of reusable bags among Filipino shoppers.

There is practically no danger for different products to be thrown in one bag as consumers usually wash their produce before using it, according to Lopez.

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Tags: Environmental Issues , Garbage , Paper , paper bags , Philippines , Plastic , plastic bags , Pollution , Solid waste management , trash

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XUWXIES7SL42HS3QL2FBBIZXRI Bahaykubo-girl Kulasa

    sige mga manufacturers, isulong nyo pa yang plastic. pero magpromise kayo na every month ay lilinisin nyo mga estero at kanal para maalis ang mga plastic na nakabara ha! pwera na lang kung lahat ng plastic nyo ay biodegradable.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Q67DS5PS2N2Q4CFVW24TGFXXFA Y M

    itapon ang mga plastic sa mga kompanyang to haha

  • Pluma Mana

    “Our irresponsible ways of disposing of plastic and other waste is to
    blame, not plastic. We are the problem; we are also the solution,” he

    well, agreed that the culprit is the way of disposing the plastics. but the fact & truth is there will be no plastics to dispose of if the plastics are totally banned. hence no plastic means no problem.

  • Nic Legaspi

    “That is why you will notice that if you order french fries or pizza, the food itself is not in direct contact with the brown paper or carton packaging. In the case of pizza, wax paper holds the pizza underneath but the top cover might still get in contact with the food unless, as some outlets do, a plastic item is provided to hold it up,” he said. 

    Expect these manufacturers to look after their interests. The reason why wax paper is used in pizza boxes is just so the grease from the food would not seep into the box., same goes with french fries, and even drinks from Ministop and 7-11. Without wax paper, or waxed material, the liquid would destroy the paper material.
    Filipinos should make sure they’re well-informed about these facts so these self-serving plastic corporations would not be able to cloud our judgement.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L7PILUDK6IPFGJLJNCM2IROCRY Albin

    OK na mabawasan ang plastic, pero huwag naman i-ban. Mahirap kasing mamalengke ng isda, tutulo ang lansa.
    Mahirapan din ako bumili ng lutong ulam na may sabaw.

    • Nida Abad

      Well, then bring your own washable fish/meat/cooked food container.

  • KurakotNaPinoy

    It is about time they ban plastics, this is decades overdue already.

    Expect misinformation from the plastic manufacturers, unless they shift into biodegradable plastics.

  • rudy_boy

    IF Mr. LAO is CORRECT.

    Hence, all European and other other industrialized nation is WRONG.

    Obviously, Mr Lao only explain the specific advantage , not the general

    Wake up Mr. Lao, not all Pipinos are confined to their owned country.

    The fact is, a bunch of Pilipino Chinese businessman get rich when
    industrialized countries minimized the usage of plastic. Hense, price of
    plastic raw material substantially lowered and transit to (where else?),

  • litenshadow

    Advanced countries use biodegradable palstics used for shopping bags, wrappings, etc.
    Styrofoams are also widely used in supermarkets for packaging processed raw food, fruits, vegetables but these materials are being recycled. Consumers are educated well on how to dispose off these platics, styrofoams. Total ban is an impractical solution. Dapat mapag-aralang mabuti ito at saka makapag implement ng epektibong sistema ng pag-dispose ng bio-degradable at non-biodegradable wastes. Tumulong din tayo bilang responsible citizen sa tamang pag dispose ng ating basura. Disiplina ang kailangan din.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DI3QGCJEEFK52CT4DTQ7I5SRUE Neil

    how come???   Sa tuwing may kalamidad,   sa tuwing malakas ang buhos ng ulan at baha sa mababang lugar,  ano ang bumabara sa mga DRAINAGE SYSTEM at mga tambak na mga materials na bumabara sa mga ESTERO, ano ang dahilan ng UNDOY at 10 Undoy na rumagasa sa atin (mga kalunsuran),  diba MGA PLASTIC ?

    KUNG DI MAIPATUTUPAD ang BANNING ng plastic materials,  ang pinakamaganda,   IPALAGANAP, ikampanya kundi man UBLIGAHIN ng mga LGUs,  PUBLIC MARKET at malalaking MALLs ang paggamit ng BAYONG.  Bigyan ng discount (2.0%) ang lahat ng GAGAMIT ng BAYONG,  ang reusable na sisidlan ng mga PINAMALENGKENG BAGAY.

    • Nida Abad

      True, some countries actually give a couple of pennies back when shoppers bring their own reusable bags.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ISXEO7Q5XWZP5OXBC7DNZ6PDDA joshua

    Bring own plastic bags….Start a deadline for a total ban on plastic bags and make selling of plastic bags like a consumer protection stuff..sell at a much higher price and set aside money for environmental fund to clean up for these sold plastic bags..those who want to buy fresh fish..bring your own plastic bags.

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