Climate change body eyes transition from plastic to paper or reusable bags
MANILA, Philippines — As cities and towns gradually shift from plastic bags to paper, the Climate Change Commission said the regulation of non-biodegradable bags would be “strongly pursued” but with due consultation with the plastics industry and consideration of possible effects on employment.
Commission Vice Chair Mary Ann Lucille Sering said moves to ban the use of plastics should be balanced with possible effects on the plastics business and the jobs the industry has been providing.
Department stores, supermarkets, public markets and fast food chains are the biggest generators of disposable plastic bags. Since these are given away free to customers or buyers, these are also easily disposed of, leading to heaps of non-biodegradable trash that clog canals and river ways.
But in a roundtable discussion with Philippine Daily Inquirer editors and reporters, Sering said: “We have to be practical with the approach. Just like any good thing, there’s always a tradeoff.”
“You cannot completely ban plastic that is around the corner, but you have to give the local industries into it time to transition. Because if you kill an industry, you’re also killing some jobs as well,” she said.
Some local government units, for instance Muntinlupa City, Lucban, Quezon and Pagsanjan, Laguna have either regulated or banned the use of plastics in local businesses as part of efforts to cut down on non-biodegradable trash.
She said local legislation would be the way to go.
“Whether the commission would encourage — it’s good on one sense — but we have to put a balance,” she said.
Citing a consultation with the plastics industry, she said: “At the end of the day we told industry that this was, as a policy, to be strongly pursued.”
She, meanwhile, expressed alarm over a recent report that some imported and locally made toys sold in Metro Manila bargain shops and malls tested positive for toxic metals, including lead and mercury, which are known to inhibit a child’s cognitive and motor development.
The study, released by anti-toxics group EcoWaste Coalition last week, showed that some 60 kinds of toys out of 200 tested this month had at least one of these toxic chemicals: lead, mercury, chromium, antimony, arsenic and cadmium.
“This is actually very alarming because this is the first study being done and we’ve been importing toys for so long.…[W]e don’t even know if those diseases of children could have been caused by that,” she said.
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