City to issue notice of violation vs big malls, markets

THE City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) will start giving out Thursday, January 4, an ordinance violation receipt to some 97 establishments found violating the implementation of the plastic regulation ordinance.

Engineer Armen Cuenca, Clenro chief said, he was surprised to learn that the malls who initially supported the “plastic-free” campaign are now refusing to implement the regulation for some concerns.

Cuenca said big malls in the city including its stores, and the public markets all violated the ordinance in the first 3 days of the implementation.

“Now, accordingly, they suddenly want an implementing rules and regulations, but I could give them 1,000 copies if they want to. We want them to understand that our ordinance already stipulates the rules and regulations,” he said.

Cuenca said on the first two days of the campaign, they have started to reprimand establishments but today, the Clenro chief said he wants to issue violation receipts to send a message to business owners that the city is serious in its campaign.

Initially, the violation receipt will be given to the violators which will give them at least three days to comply the penalties.

Cuenca said he will also meet with the mall managers to settle the concerns they have raised on the ordinance.

The plastic regulation shall apply in all commercial establishments, such as malls, fast foods, pharmacies, markets, food kiosks, and even sari-sari stores.

This means that establishments will not be allowed to provide their customers plastic bags as packaging materials, particularly for dry goods and cooked food. The use of plastics, however, is still allowed particularly for wet goods, especially in packing meat and fruits, to ensure food safety.

If stores still issue plastic bags to its customers, the city government shall penalize store owners with a penalty worth P3,000 for every plastic bag issued.

Under City Ordinance No. 13378-2018 or the “Integrated Eco-biological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of Cagayan de Oro City,” business owners and market vendors are no longer allowed to use single-plastic as packaging or wrapper for bought goods and items. The city government also encouraged the public to bring reusable “eco-bags” or baskets to avoid contributing to plastic wastes in the city.

Bencyrus Ellorin, chair of the Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and Environment (PAGE), said that the implementation of the city ordinance is a welcome development, however there is still a need to address the plastic waste problem in general since the ordinance only reduces the use of specific plastic such as the “single-use” plastic bags.

“The coverage is single use plastics like sando bags. We are still faced with the bigger problem of plastic sachets used in almost all household products. This is only part of the solution,” he said.

He also noted that with the ordinance, it can educes plastics that contribute to clogging of canals and waterways which can aggravating floods, and he also advised the public to bring containers in buying fresh food products like fish and meat.

Bigger impact

The passage and implementation of the city ordinance that regulates plastic use comes in a time where the Philippines is among the top contributors of plastic wastes in the oceans of the world.

The recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) in 2015, Philippines is one of the five countries in the world where half of the earth's plastic pollutants in the oceans originated from.

In its study “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean,” its data showed that the Philippines wastes more than 6.2 million kilograms of plastic per day that means 81 percent of our plastic wastes are mismanaged.

For context, countries like Japan and the United States similarly waste millions of kilograms per day — 19 million kg and 37 million kg respectively — but both had a 0 percent mismanagement rating, meaning almost virtually no plastic wastes get carried to the oceans.

Philippines joined China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in terms of excessive plastic waste mismanagement, which majority comes from the Southeast Asian region.

In 2017, international environmental group, Greenpeace has called the Asean to seriously draw mechanisms to curb the waste mismanagement. On June 5, 2018, in line with World Environmental Day, the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has claimed it joined the movement to reduce plastic wastes for environment in the region.

ACB executive director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, has supported this claim by citing Los Baños, Laguna being Philippines' first ever municipality that regulated the use of plastic bags through Municipal Ordinance No. 2008-752.

Into our system

Several scientific studies already manifest that plastic materials have already reached an alarming rate that it is present inside human, and animal bodies.

A study published in February 2018, with lead researcher Alina M. Wieczorek, found microplastics in the stomachs of 73 percent of seven species of mesopelagic fish caught in the Northwest Atlantic. These groups of fish live very deep in the oceans but swim to the surface at night to feed. Mesopelagic fish spread micro-plastic pollution throughout the marine ecosystem by carrying particles from the surface to deeper waters where they can affect deep-sea organisms, some of these fishes can also be found in the Philippine waters especially during migration season.

Ghent University's research in 2014 has led to the findings that around 11,000 bits of plastic a year are being found in the particular mussels and oysters examined, but the research suggests that in order to consume that much plastic you'd have to be eating an average of more than four oysters or between 17 and 18 mussels a day.

Another research that may connect to other researches was made by Dr. Philipp Schwabl, a researcher with the Medical University of Vienna. He found that every single person out of the group of 8 had microplastics in their stool, on average about 20 particles for every 3.5 ounces of stool. It also means that more than 95 percent of the particles came from plastics used in food packaging and storage. They included polypropylene used in bottle caps, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in drink bottles, polystyrene found in plastic utensils and cups, and polyethylene used in plastic bags and storage containers.


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