'Make plastic bag users pay'

by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2011 06:48 PM | Updated as of Aug 10 2011 05:27 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Some senators are proposing incentives for people all over the country to stop using plastic bags, following the example of Muntinlupa City where local government officials described their plastics ban as successful.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said during a trade and commerce committee hearing on Monday that stores in the country can charge consumers extra fees if they want to use plastic bags instead of bringing their own bags.

"That way, we bring the issue to the economic realm, thereby giving an inducement to the ordinary consumer," he said.

During the hearing, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Marcos pointed out that using paper as an alternative to plastics would be counter-productive because it would entail cutting down trees.

Some pro-environment groups are also skeptical about using biodegradable plastics, which manufacturers claim have additives that make them decompose after 6 months.

Sonia Mendoza, chair of Mother Earth Foundation, explained that such materials do not actually "biodegrade" because they still leave plastic particles behind.

"The only biodegradable plastics are those made from corn, cassava, and potato," she said.

Environmentalists agreed that people should be encouraged to bring their own bags.

Meanwhile, officials of Muntinlupa City told the committee that the city has been reaping the rewards of its plastics ban.

Since the ordinance was implemented, the amount of plastic wastes collected in the city went down to 10 percent from 30 percent, said Atty. Byron San Pedro of Muntinlupa's Business Permit and Licensing Office.

It has also made floodwaters recede in less than 30 minutes during the recent typhoons that hit the country, he added.

"Naging effective sa amin ang ordinansang ito," San Pedro said.