Environmentalists seek nationwide plastic ban
MANILA, Philippines—Environmentalists on Wednesday pushed for the extension nationwide of some municipal and city bans on the use of plastic bags.
To date, at least 90 cities and towns have passed ordinances banning or regulating the use of plastic bags, with several more local government units (LGUs) poised to follow suit before the end of the year, according to EcoWaste Coalition.
On Wednesday, EcoWaste led a march of more than 500 students, school officials, parent-teacher officers, beauty queens and environmentalists to observe the 4th “International Plastic Bag-Free Day” and call on the national government to enact laws banning plastic bags all over the country.
“We ask the national government to enact laws and policies that will reinforce the initiatives of visionary LGUs and eventually wean us from plastic bags,” Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Head on Plastics said in a news release.
The group gathered at the Jose P. Laurel High School in Tondo, Manila, carrying the reusable bayong or native baskets, banners and placards calling for a nationwide ban on plastic bags.
EcoWaste said the action was intended to hammer home the urgent message for the national government to act decisively against the use, sale and distribution of plastic bags, which clog drainage canals and waterways.
“Plastic bags are the embodiment of an antiquated, throw-away mentality that we need to urgently address,” Mendoza said.
“By outlawing the use of plastic bags and other non-ecologically sound packaging materials, we substantially reduce our waste generation, thereby cutting waste management costs, and lessen related environmental risks such as flooding and marine pollution,” she added.
Plastic bags usually end up littering the streets and dumps, and at the same time polluting rivers and seas, Mendoza said.
Recycling plastic bags does not solve the problem. “(Recycling) just manages the plastic bags that have already been created. Recycled plastics still make their way back to the consumers’ buy-use-dispose loop, thus adding more plastics to the environment. What we need to do is to avoid its usage in the first place,” Mendoza said.
The EcoWaste spokesperson added that banning the use of plastic bags would boost the demand for locally made bayong and cloth bags, supporting local cottage industries and creating more employment and business opportunities.
“It is now a good time for LGUs and businesses to support and invest in the production of bayong and cloth bags,” she said.
EcoWaste also backed the impending Manila-wide ban on plastic bags and styropor containers in Manila pursuant to an ordinance that would take effect in September 2013.
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