BACOLOD

Pacete: The horror of plastic pollution

As I See It

LAST Friday it rained so hard in the mountain ranges of Negros that caused flash floods. The water level in the rivers and streams rose up to a dangerous level. Some residents in the flood-prone areas were forced to go to the evacuation centers.

Residents near the bodies of water were able to see the “fluvial parade” of plastic materials in all sizes. That simply proves that we have tons of plastic deposit in the river banks and streams and that include the plastic materials from the market and houses that end up in creeks.

Canals clogged up and high water subsided several hours later. This simply means that our residents are not aware where to throw their plastic garbage. Our municipal and city environment officers have not implemented the waste management programs of their LGUs. We could also conclude that the task force from the Engineer’s Office has not properly performed its obligation.

This could also be a wake-up call for the mayors to review their ordinances on waste management program and to read again Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (with focus on Section 29). The shoreline villagers and fishermen were also surprised to see horrible tons of garbage dumped by the flashflood at the mouth of the rivers and shorelines.

Lots of single-use plastics pollute our waterways, kill marine life, sea birds and add up to our increasing solid waste. We are calling the attention of our public officials that the National Solid Waste Management came out with Resolution No. 1363-2020 directing DENR to prepare and implement specific guidelines that would ban single-use plastics in all offices of government.

We hope that our public officials and government employees are aware on the banning of plastic cups, drinking straws, stirrers, plastic utensils, thin and translucent plastic bags and thin-filmed “sando” bags. When I go marketing, I carry with me a bio-bag or plastic basket (that I have been using for months).

This lesson-to-learn should be adapted by our schools, churches and all government and private offices. In government offices, DILG and DENR should demonstrate first so that other public offices could have their models (hopefully, real models). We also expect that the barangays will be more serious, at least, this time.

To LGUs that have no ordinances yet, “As I See It” suggests that it should be stated that no establishment, ambulant or itinerant vendors, market vendors shall provide plastic bags as packaging materials to customers. This should cover sari-sari stores, canteens, fast food chains, bakeries, coffee shops, catering services, hotels, pension houses, resorts, sea vessels and malls. We challenge the establishments to be environment-friendly by having this advice written in front of their stores, “Please, bring your reusable shopping bags and help protect the environment.” This may look funny to some but if this will have government support, many will toe the line. Government should come in with incentives for the environment-friendly establishments.

We are told to follow order because this is for our own good. The plastic materials that we throw away today will outlive us and they will even be witnesses to the end of the world. Please obey the rules. Don’t be plastic!


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