MANILA, Philippines — With the one-year moratorium on Manila’s plastic ban about to end, an environmental group urged the city government, on Sunday, to enforce the ordinance, citing its recent finding that yellow plastic bags contained excessive levels of toxic chemicals.
Ordinance No. 8282, which prohibits the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulate their use for wet goods, was passed on Sept. 3, 2012, by the previous administration.
A one-year ban on its implementation was imposed to allow businessmen to make the necessary adjustments.
“By taking firm action to curb the indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic bags, Mayor [Joseph] Erap Estrada and the government and people of Manila will surely contribute to diminishing such a toxic threat to humans and the ecosystems,” said Sonia Mendoza of EcoWaste Coalition’s Zero Waste Committee.
The group bought and analyzed some 4,300 plastic bags from wholesalers and retailers in Divisoria, Paco, Quiapo and Sampaloc on Aug. 29 to 31 to determine compliance with toxics in packaging control.
Using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, EcoWaste found out that 2,300 of the 4,300 pieces of yellow “sando” bag samples (bags shaped like an undershirt) representing 13 brands, exceeded the allowable level of 100 parts per million (ppm) by weight for toxic metals, particularly lead.
The group said that lead, a potent neurological, reproductive and developmental toxin, was detected in levels ranging from 106 to 5,680 ppm, with average lead content at 1,313 ppm.
The sampling was limited to yellow plastic sando bags as similar studies abroad had shown lead in colored bags due to the use of lead chromate, it said.
“Our findings confirm that plastic bags represent a real menace to human and ecological health,” Mendoza said.
“The threat comes not only from the huge amount of discarded plastic bags blocking waterways, aggravating floods and choking dumps, but also from their toxic chemical ingredients that get dispersed into the environment, contaminating the food chain and ultimately, our bodies,” she said.