Plastics crackdown-A A +A
Friday, October 5, 2012
THE value of an ordinance is not on its printed paper but on how rules are enforced on the ground.
Take it from actor-politician Quezón City Mayor Herbert Bautista. His cutesy roles in Filipino movies belie his political will to execute the City's Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance.
I was in one of Quezón City's big malls a few weeks ago buying some stuff. The mall's sales force wrapped the bought items not with the mall's signature single use biodegradable plastic bags, but with paper. Yet I heard no complaints. Consumers seemed to get the hang of bringing their own reusable bags. I feel so part of the crowd when I took out my BIND reusable bag which I always bring together with a University of Montréal katsa bag.
I could understand if Mayor Bautista delayed the plastic ban policy to curry favor with plastic special interests-manufacturers, malls, and the public markets.
With floods blamed on plastic bags clogging the drainage system, I wouldn't be surprised that the overwhelming number of Quezón City residents applaud the plastic ban. Less single end-use plastic bags, less floods, so much the better.
Lately, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay Jr., together with the Women of Bel Air Foundation, Inc. launched last a get-rid-of-plastic campaign in concert with the global move to clean the environment.
Binay's campaign, called "Huwag Kang Plastic: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle at the Salcedo Community Market," however, is more modest. His launching board is to use the weekend tiangge for organic and natural products at Salcedo Village in Makati.
Makati City is one of the first LGUs to create an ordinance regulating the use of plastics, but its full implementation has yet to take off.
I am yet to be impressed, though. When I bought some stuff at the Ayala Center, malls still hand out their signature non-biodegradable bags.
Can the younger Binay buck plastic special interests much as Bautista is doing? That remains to be seen. For all I know, it could be just a lot of hot air to look green and cute, and nothing else.
Our Bacolod City Councilor Em Legaspi Ang graced the Salcedo Village campaign launch. Ms. Ang authored our City Ordinance 562, Series of 2011 banning plastic bag use and will take effect on November 23.
Except for biodegradable plastic bags, the sando bags are strictly prohibited, Ang bragged. Penalties will be strictly imposed.
CO 562 is supposed to encourage Bacolodnons to use alternative packaging materials such as woven bags, katsa, paper bags or "bring our own bag" program.
Am I supposed to get excited with November 23? Can we expect a "Hinugay Plastic sa Bacolod" campaign? Or more like "Hinugay Pati-Pati sa City Ordinance 562?"
Judging from Bacolod's wet market and the malls, I got the gut feeling that Bacolod's plastic ban is going to be a lot of hot air, conveniently forgotten in the heat of the election campaign and the Christmas season.
For one thing, I see no information campaign on the day of reckoning. No signage or anything warning plastic users. It's business as usual in Bacolod City with non-biodegradable plastics. We can expect to have more, not less, trash.
Let's see if outgoing mayor Evelio Leonardia will do a Herbert Bautista thing by cracking down on non-biodegradable sando bags. Will he remember 562 to boost his partymate Em Ang's re-election bid?
If he forgets, the paper used to print out CO 562 might as well join the mountain of trash downtown or be flushed down the toilet.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 05, 2012.