Makati bans use of polystrene, plastic bagsBy Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay has issued an executive order outlawing, starting next week, the use by department stores, supermarkets, restaurants and other establishments of plastic shopping bags and polystyrene containers as the country’s financial district joined several Metro Manila cities in imposing such a ban.
In a statement on Tuesday, Binay said he has tasked a group of city officials to ensure that the ban is strictly observed in Makati. The recent order amended a set of guidelines released last year that prescribed rules on the use of “environment-friendly materials,” he pointed out.
City officials noted that the guidelines issued last year gave establishments in Makati one year to prepare for the ban and to find alternative materials.
“To strengthen our citywide advocacy for the use of environment-friendly packaging, we have amended the guidelines previously issued to include a clear definition of primary and secondary packaging materials,” the mayor said.
The new executive order took into consideration goods and produce that depend on plastic packaging in the meantime because “acceptable alternative packaging [is] not yet available,” Binay said.
Thus plastic bags may still be used for the following:
• Wet goods such as meat, fish and other kinds of fresh produce, as well as various kinds of food;
• Bottled products like water, iced tea, cooking oil, alcohol, mayonnaise, jelly, peanut butter, coco jam, and the like; and
• Products placed in sachets like shampoo and conditioner, soap/detergent, noodles; cosmetics; cigarettes.
The directive also distinguished between primary and secondary packaging materials, a source misunderstanding. It defined primary packaging as the “first-level product packaging that contains the item sold,” for instance wet-market goods and food.
On the other hand, secondary packing materials refer to the layer of packaging that “supports goods with primary packaging, usually for the convenience of the handler or customer,” such as shopping bags.
All business establishments involved in selling goods are generally prohibited from using plastics as packaging material, unless the products they sell are on the exemption list.
It also bans the use of containers made of polystyrene—plastic foam erroneously referred to as Styrofoam, which is a brand—as packaging material for cooked food and beverages.
“Through these policies, we aim to encourage the use of biodegradable and/or recyclable plastic bags among business establishments and consumers alike,” Binay said.
As an alternative, Binay said, stores could use biodegradable containers such as bags made from paper, cloth or even woven native bags, instead of the usual plastic shopping bags.
To ensure compliance, the mayor organized a team called the Plastic Monitoring Task Force that will go around supermarkets, public markets, malls, fastfood stores, canteens, and similar establishments in Makati.
These establishments, as well as barangay halls, were mandated to place plastic recovery bins in their respective places where the material could be retrieved and recycled. Staff from the city’s environment services department will coordinate with local recyclers and junkshop owners with regard to the collection of the material.
Individual violators may face a P1,000 fine or a prison term of 5 to 30 days, depending on the court’s discretion. Companies who cited for the infraction may have their owners imprisoned, or fined P5,000, and City Hall may also have the violator’s business license revoked.
At least three other Metro Manila cities have prohibited the use of plastics and polystyrene in their areas, namely Muntinlupa, Las Piñas and Marikina, while other towns and provinces like Coron, Palawan, have issued similar directives.