SARI-SARI stores, open and wet markets vendors and peddlers are mostly the violators of Mandaue City’s Plastic Bag Prohibition Ordinance, which was enacted in 2010.
This was the revelation of the Mandaue City Environment Resource Office (MCENRO) after observing that majority of the violators in the past years came from these establishments.
Mark Oplado, the focal person for MCENRO’s Monitoring and Enforcement Unit (MEN), told SunStar Cebu on Friday, June 2, 2023, that small businesses, sari-sari stores and vendors in open markets may lack knowledge and information about the City’s ban on plastic.
Still, MCENRO recorded a downtrend in the number of violators having 321 issued citations in 2017, 283 in 2018, down to zero in 2022.
Michael Edrial, supervising environmental management specialist, said the coronavirus pandemic also played a role in the fall of the materials used between 2020 to 2022, stressing that it could be too early to declare the effect of the ordinance’s implementation.
The ordinance was first enacted in 2010, entailing all shops, stores, eating places and vendors, including carenderias and sari-sari stores, to provide only paper, cloth, recyclable paper and or reusable bags to their customers except those selling wet goods and construction materials.
The ordinance was believed to help eradicate the perennial flood problem of Mandaue City.
Anyone caught then would be entitled to pay a P500 fee, imprisonment of up to five days, or both depending on the court’s discretion.
But the fee was doubled in 2018 when the ordinance was amended, adding MCENRO permission to enter into a compromise agreement in settling the fine and imposing an additional penalty of P500.
In 2019, Mayor Jonas Cortes put the ordinance into a review as to how to improve its implementation, particularly in the wet market.
It then had its final revision in 2021, where the prohibition of using plastic straws was included, and reducing the fee back to P500.
City Councilor and chairperson of the committee of the environment Jennifer Del Mar said they have yet to discuss whether they will increase or stiffen the penalty of the ordinance.
Hard to enforce
Kelie Ko, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MCCI), said that most commercial establishments have complied with the “Plastic Bag Prohibition Ordinance” of the City Government, but implementing this in smaller establishments, particularly in wet markets, is much harder.
Livestock meats and by-products that are bought at the wet market are placed in a sando bag then at a paper bag, which only increases the usage of plastic in the city.
“Unless and until there are better alternatives to plastic, we will see violations here and there,” Ko said.
He said waste plastic management should be approached in a multi-faceted manner from reducing its production to recycling plastic products instead of imposing a total ban.
“I believe (it) is more practical, sustainable and, ultimately, effective,” Ko said.
Oplado explained that among their interventions to increase people’s knowledge of the law is conducting information, education and communication programs, and supplying eco-bags to the majority of business establishments.
Not a good idea
Majority of sari-sari store owners had already expressed their disapproval should the City decide to increase the penalty for violating the law.
Sel (not her real name), 45, from Barangay Subangdako, said increasing the fine is not a good idea, stressing she only gets more or less P500 profit from her small sari-sari store, which she gives to her children as monetary allowance, or “baon.”
Another sari-sari store owner, Donald, said the City Government should focus instead on proper waste segregation implementation, emphasizing that the use of plastic materials is hard to avoid.
“Plastics don’t tear easily unlike paper bags, so proper waste segregation must be observed instead,” said Donald in Cebuano. (HIC, EHP)
June 05, 2023
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