Down with the Plastics!

We are pleasantly surprised when the Government of Makati announced that plastic bags are no longer allowed in all businesses in Makati, the so-called Central Business District of the country and where we were born and raised.


Makati City goes after plastic ban violators
By Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Several market vendors in Makati found violating the citywide plastic ban on its first day of implementation on Thursday were let off with a warning although some were penalized. An official, meanwhile, said that business establishments have no excuse for not complying with the ordinance given the nine-year adjustment period allowed by the city government.

Danilo Villas, head of the city’s Department of Environment Services, said the first day of the ban’s implementation still found several establishments that were caught unaware.“There were some stores that were giving away plastic bags and Styrofoam packaging. But they can no longer say that they have not been warned,” Villas said in an interview.

According to the city hall official, the monitoring teams he deployed around the city recorded 14 violations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Plastic Monitoring Task Force was tasked to implement City Ordinance No. 2003-095 which bans the use, sale and distribution of plastics and other nonbiodegradable materials such as Styrofoam. Violators face a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment ranging from five to 30 days while firms or establishments will be fined P5,000. Their owners may also be jailed for a month up to a year.

At a public market in Barangay Olympia which is located a few blocks away from city hall, almost all of the dry goods vendors spotted by the INQUIRER were still using plastic bags.
One of them explained that they were given permission by the monitoring team to get rid of their stock of plastic bags but were warned that starting Friday, they would be penalized should they refuse to switch to paper or biodegradable containers. “By tomorrow (Saturday), these bags will be gone. We still have to buy paper bags to replace these,” a vendor who refused to give his name told the INQUIRER.

Marilou Macaraig, a vegetable vendor, admitted she had yet to buy paper bags for her goods. “We were not informed that they would implement the ordinance today (Friday). There were no meetings held or notices posted,” she said.

Villas told the INQUIRER that several stall owners in Olympia were among those cited for noncompliance with the ban. He said he himself caught a violator, a fast-food chain on J. P. Rizal Avenue, around 11 a.m. while he was conducting an inspection. Villas, however, said that although there were violators, there were more businesses which complied with the ban.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and even parts of South Korea — places where you have to shell out a few bucks if you want a plastic bag for your purchase. Otherwise, you should have an eco bag ready each time you shop.

When we first set foot in Singapore way back in 2007, this was one of the first things that caught our attention. Imagine citizens dutifully abiding this law! We told ourselves that doing something like this is impossible in my dear old demented country where citizens act like the world owe them something. In our mind, people will always reason out that the need for two layers of toxic plastic bags for a kilo of fish will always trump the needs of Mother Nature. The earth promptly gets back at us and our wasteful ways between the months of June to September where the whole of Manila (and the rest of the Philippines) can be a location double for Water World, the failed-Kevin Costner-flick-turned-Universal-Studios-attraction. The rain pours, the streets get flooded, people wade in waist-deep waters, people and children lose their lives, traffic gets to a stand still and where dredging the city canals and water ways usually yield tons of the same plastic stuff.

The fact that the City of Makati had balls to enact this was laudable in our book. We had a first-hand experience how extensive this program is during a trip to the mall. Everywhere — from fast food chains, boutiques, supermarkets and even convenience stores — were now using paper bags in wrapping the purchases. There were also eco bags for sale and at PHP30 to PHP40 a pop, the malls were making a killing.

eco bags and groceries from The Landmark
eco bags and groceries from The Landmark

Since we left our many eco bags at home, we had no choice but to purchase three pieces for our groceries. The bags were sturdy and durable and made of the good stuff, something every shopper can use over and over again. At the counter, people were either buying eco bags, using the (very thin) craft papers or using boxes for their purchases. Weird, but in my opinion, it was a pretty good sight and we can’t help but be impressed with the city government for pushing through with the initiative.

As expected, there were still a few hold-outs, in spite the nine-year grace period. They were fined five thousand pesos for the first offence. If it were up to us, punishment should be a mandatory, no-exemption community service where they will have to clean out all plastics blocking the esteros and waterways. Now, that will get their cooperation.

We are not a big fan of majority of Filipino politicians — especially when it seems that the good ones have gone ahead to heaven — and left us with the worst of the lot. But there are ordinances and ballsy moves that deserved to be commended, and this is one of them.

2 Replies to “Down with the Plastics!”

  1. Matagal ng bawal sa QC. Kahit sa Evil Empire bawal din ang paggamit. Feelingera nga ako a few weeks ago when I was at SM Makati and I bought something and the cashier/bagger lady said, “Maam advise lang po namin…effective _____ bawal na po ang plastic sa Makati. Please bring your own shopping bag.” Sabay labas ako ng shopping bag at sabi, “Taga QC ako. Matagal na akong di gumagamit ng plastic bag hehe.”

    1. Oh yeah, I forgot! Nauna na pala ang QC even before Makati. Anyway, I am really happy with this new ruling. Hopefully, mabawasan ang kalat, lalo na sa waterways so we don’t have to deal with flooding.

      Uso na nga ang ecobag 🙂

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