Metrowide plastic ban in place by 2013 - MMDA

Garbage clogging esteros is a common sight in Metro Manila, and is one of the reasons behind the move to ban plastic bags. means BUSINESS

MANILA, Philippines - Local governments in Metro Manila have less than a year to comply fully with a metrowide ban on the use of plastics and styrofoam in the packaging and handling of items and food products in all establishments, markets and sari-sari stores, the Metro Manila Development Authority has said.

"I expect next year all the 17 LGUs (16 cities and the lone municipality of Pateros) would implement a similar ban. Right now, after Muntinlupa, Las Pinas followed suit in imposing the ban on plastics. Makati made a similar announcement, though the city’s total ban takes effect next year yet. Similar moves are under way in Taguig and Quezon City," MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said.

In Las Pinas, he noted, “Anti-Plastic Pulis” teams were even deputized to enforce the measure.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay said last week they have given a one-year grace period to all business establishments in the city to dispose of their plastic and styrofoam containers and switch to recyclable substitutes.

Besides the LGUs, certain private retail chains have also encouraged the use of reusable “earth bags” in order to do away with plastic bags.

Similar measures are also being proposed in the cities of Mandaluyong, Caloocan, Manila and Valenzuela.

Outside Metro Manila, similar bans are in effect in Antipolo, Rizal, Los Banos and Binan in Laguna, Carmona and Imus in Cavite, Lucban and Infanta in Quezon, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, Batangas City and Burgos, Pangasinan.

Tolentino lauded the moves. Besides reducing the garbage volume, this could ease flooding in the metropolis, Tolentino said, and called on LGUs to implement similar measures.

He was referring to earlier experiences by MMDA and LGU teams that retrieved tons of plastic and Styrofoam material when they cleaned up drainage systems and waterways after parts of Metro Manila were flooded.

Uncontrolled dumping of waste was also one of the aggravating factors cited by the MMDA during the massive flooding brought by typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

"The MMDA strongly encourages LGUs to adopt a similar scheme to combat the dangerous effects of environmental degradation which leads to massive flooding and climate change," he added.

Per MMDA data, bulk of the more than 8,000 metric tons of garbage collected in Metro Manila daily are comprised of plastics. The agency has also raised alarm over the haphazard dumping of plastic products clogging the already overburdened drainage system of the metropolis, resulting in flooding during heavy rains.