MANILA, Philippines — An ordinance meant to regulate the use of plastic packaging in Malabon City has been sent back to the drawing board because of serious “loopholes.”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer has learned that Ordinance No. 01-2013 titled, “An ordinance prohibiting the use of plastic bags [for] dry goods, regulating its utilization on wet goods and prohibiting the use of Styrofoam/styrophor in the city of Malabon and prescribing penalties thereof,” was remanded to the Malabon City Council for amendments.
“It’s not being implemented yet because it has many loopholes,” Mayor Antolin Oreta III said in an interview.
Apparently, the ordinance did not address the concerns of dozens of plastics manufacturers doing business in the city despite the fact that meetings were held with them.
“Malabon is a hub for plastics manufacturers, too. Many plastics manufacturers are based in the city. We just can’t shut them down immediately. We want this done gradually,” Oreta said.
He added that the ordinance would be fine-tuned to address other issues, which he did not elaborate.
“Aside from the fact that there are many plastics manufacturers here, not all plastics are bad. We need to determine the types that we need. We are near the fish port so we just can’t ban the use of all plastics,” Oreta said.
Despite these issues, the mayor said it would be the city’s goal to eventually prohibit the use of plastic packaging in Malabon, one of the most flood-prone areas in Metro Manila.
Data from the Malabon Business Permit and Licensing Office showed that 30 companies have been producing different types of plastics in the city.
These range from plastic bags being used by malls and department stores, styrofoam packaging and to plastic containers, pails and even plastic cabinets.
Sought for comment, Henry Gaw, president of the Polystyrene Packaging Council of the Philippines (PPCS), welcomed the city government’s decision to review the new regulation.
“We requested amendments to the ordinance because, in the original, we saw inconsistency in the wordings in the ordinance, especially on whether they are prohibiting or just regulating the use of these products,” he said in a phone interview.
PPCS, which has members in Malabon City, is among the plastics and Styrofoam manufacturing groups the city government consulted in making the ordinance.
Gaw said their group has taken the stand of allowing users to choose the packaging materials to use, whether plastic or others.
“We campaign for regulation to allow whatever material they prefer, but there should be recovery of the materials for recycling in place,” he said.
The regulation, the first the council has drafted this year, was enacted by the city council on Jan. 8 and signed and approved by Oreta shortly afterward.
It was published in newspapers in late March and early April, and was supposed to take full effect later this year.
The ordinance prohibits business establishments from using plastic bags as packaging for dry goods while also banning the use of Styrofoam containers for food.
Plastic can still be used to package wet goods but only for the primary packaging. Secondary packaging, which could be used to provide support for the primary packaging, should not be made of plastic.
The ordinance also prohibits the improper disposal of plastic waste, mandating instead that plastic packaging used for wet materials be rinsed and dried properly. It should then be submitted to a material recycling facility set up in each of the city’s villages.
The ordinance gives a six-month grace period for business establishments to properly comply with the ordinance, during which the Malabon City Environment and Natural Office will not penalize violators.
However, businesses are required to adhere to “Plastic-Free Days” every Friday, during which establishments caught violating the ordinance may be penalized.
Penalties for businesses found violating the ordinance range from a P1,000 fine, a warning and attendance in a seminar for the first offense, to a P5,000 fine and cancelation of their license to operate for one year for the third offense.
Individuals found violating the ordinance will face penalties ranging from P500 to a P1,500 fine, community service and a lecture, depending on the number of offenses committed.
The city council said it enacted the ordinance as it observed that despite serious efforts of the city to segregate waste materials, plastics still ended up clogging the city’s canals, rivers, and creeks, resulting in flooding.