Thursday, December 09, 2021

Davao City council passes law vs single-use plastic

Photo courtesy of Idis

A COALITION of environmental groups lauded the passage of the ordinance in Davao City banning the use of single use plastic, but they are pushing for amendments after some provisions were not covered.

In a position paper filed by the Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) to the 19th City Council, the group lauded the passage of an ordinance regulating the sale, distribution, and use of single-use plastics in the city, known as the "No to Single-Use Plastics Ordinance of 2021." The ordinance was passed on third and final reading on Tuesday, March 2.

Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr., committee on environment chairperson and author of the ordinance, said in the ordinance that it aims to regulate the sale, distribution, and use of single-use plastics and to encourage the use of reusable products by discouraging disposable plastic products.

The ordinance also aims to implement waste reduction plans, programs, and practices within the city and “to enhance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

It also stated that single-use plastics such as drinking cups, ice cream cups, condiments or gravy containers, cup lids, stirrers, cutleries, straws, meal boxes, pastry or cake boxes, egg containers or clamshells, balloon sticks, and hand gloves are no longer allowed to be sold, used, or distributed for free without a special permit to distribute and/or use single-use plastic products.

"Special permit to sell” will be issued by the City Mayor’s Office and upon showing that there are no commercially available alternatives.

The SDM, a network of environmental multi-sectoral organizations, women and youth groups, and individuals who promote and advocate for sustainable living in the city, lauded the passage of the ordinance, which is now waiting for the signature of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for its effectiveness.

"As residents and ecowaste practitioners of Davao City, we have been monitoring and calling for the regulation on single-use plastics since 2019. While we appreciate and commend that the City Council has decided to move forward with the single-use plastics ordinance, we also raise our concerns on the ordinance," SDM said in a position paper forwarded to the media.

The group raised concern about the ordinance's title "regulating the sale, distribution, and use of single-use plastics" in the city. It also proposed to rename the ordinance from “No Plastics Ordinance” to “Plastics-free ordinance.”

"Consider using 'free' to emphasize that it is the dependence on single-use plastics that we are addressing such that existing alternatives will be the mainstream product/packaging," SDM said.

The group called for the inclusion of sando bags, labo bags, and PET bottles in the single-use plastics to be banned or regulated.

SDM is also calling on to amend the special permit. It said the P10,000 per year permit fee is "too inconsequential to deter single-use plastic production." Instead, it suggested the permit be on a per-item basis.

The group also pushed for the inclusion of incentives for establishments and institutions that will transition to plastics-free operations and declare their own single-use plastic-free policy. Incentives include waiving of fees related to registration/permit fees and promotion of the enterprise in social media and other promotional materials/events of the city.

Some of the amendments it is pushing are the inclusion of persons with disability (PWD) in the Special Usage Distribution and exceptions, the formation of MMT (multi-stakeholder monitoring team) or a Task Force on monitoring, the creation of a Sustainable Enterprise Fund to be created that will give seed money or supplemental capital support for enterprises that support sustainable alternatives to plastic products and/or packaging, and the mandatory submission of Plastics Management Plan to producers or distributors of items that are not covered by the prohibition on use.

"Many of these suggestions were brought up during the consultations/committee hearings in 2019 but were not captured in the present version/proposed ordinance," SDM said.

“The ordinance may not be what we expected it to be, nonetheless, this is a step closer to addressing the plastic wastes issue in the City. We just hope that this ordinance will stir behavioral and attitude change to Dabawenyos and, also, for the business sectors to also do their part in impacting that change," Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) Executive Director Mark Peñalver said.

Idis is one of the members of SDM, who also lobbied for the inclusion of sando bags, labo bags, and PET bottles in the single-use plastics regulated items.

He said their group is also looking forward to helping in drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the ordinance and will monitor closely the implementation of this ordinance.

"Our campaign for a plastic-free Davao does not end in the passage of the ordinance. As policy advocacy and environmental non-government organization, we have to ensure that the IRR and the implementation of the Ordinance remain loyal to its intent," Peñalver added.

SunStar Davao is still reaching out to Mahipus and the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry for their side on this matter.


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