It looks like the city’s ordinance banning plastic bags and advocating use of paper and other biodegradable containers in groceries needs to be amended before it can be fully implemented.
One reason is that biodegradable (compostable) plastic is now in the market, something unavailable, and therefore not considered, when the ordinance was passed in 2007. This was pointed out by mayor Mauricio Domogan in his recent dialogues with businessmen on how the regulatory enactment could be enforced.
Another is that Ordinance 26-2007 promotes use of paper bags which, according to a report on information dissemination on the ordinance, may not be the best choice to replace plastic bags.
“The city should look into whether or not paper bags would be the best option to replace plastic bags considering that considering that the former is known to be made of wood pulp which is derived from trees,” said local legislative staff officer Dan Ricky Ong in his report to vice-mayor Daniel Farinas.
Citing the conclusion of a study on their production, including cost of their disposal, Ong said neither paper bags nor plastic bags are the best choice. Not even biodegradable plastic.
“Reusable canvas bags would be the best option,” he said.
Or anything reusable such as buri bags, rattan baskets and the like, if only people actually reuse them when they go to market.
The ordinance allows use of plastic containers or sando bags for fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, “provided these are placed in shopping bags allowed in this Ordinance”. The city council then promulgated implementation of the ordinance by this year.
Ong’s team gathered the following feedbacks: The ordinance should list all biodegradable bagging products which may be used and available in the local market; the source or “bagsakan” of these products should be determined and provided; the ordinance should be amended as paper bags are made from trees which need to be preserved.
Vendors also asked that they be allowed to use all their stocks of “sando” or non-biodegradable plastic bags and that exemptions on the paper-bag rule be considered on products such as food items which are hot or with sauce.
The team also recommended that agencies like the Department of Science and Technology be tapped to determine the best materials that the city can adopt for its bagging requirements.
Likewise, “the city and the Department of Trade and Industry should be watchful of establishments who are now taking advantage of the growing “supply-and-demand” caused by the ordinance considering that some establishments and wholesale/retail sellers or “bagsakan” outlets have already increased their prices of paper bags and oxo-biodegrable plastic bags”, Ong said.
He reiterated the need for monitoring the sale of non-biodegradable plastics which are being passed on as biodegradable with misleading labels like “Recyclable plastic bag”, “100% recycled” and 100% biodegradable”. – Ramon Dacawi.