For now, Isko wants to fight poverty first, before plastics use

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2019 11:27 PM

Residents try to salvage plastic trash from a polluted river on Raxabago St., in Tondo Manila, which had been the site of a demolished informal settlers community, on June 26, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The capital city has no immediate plans to implement a “no plastic policy”, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said Tuesday.

The city is not keen on asking residents and businesses to shift to using paper products, Moreno said in a meeting at the City Hall.

“It’s not that minamaliit ko ’yung plastic (issue) but there are so many things on our plate, kailangan ko unahin ang social amelioration,” he said.

“Ang papel sa puno din kinukuha so we really have to balance things.”

(Paper is also sourced from trees so we really have to balance things.)

Instead of having a plastic-free city, the mayor is encouraging his constituents to reduce, reuse and recycle non-biodegradable products.

The local government is trying to reduce trash in its landfill through its “Pagkain sa Basura” (Food in Garbage) program, in which recyclable materials can be exchanged for rice and canned goods, said Moreno, who had scavenged in Tondo before his stint in show business.

“Dahil ako ay dating basurero, I’ll buy back recyclable materials,” he said. “Para lang akong basurerong mayor.”

(Because I was once a scavenger, I’ll buy back recyclable materials. I’m still like a scavenger even if I’m already the mayor.)

A Reuters report showed that most Filipinos prefer to buy products in sachets — from toiletries to food — because these are cheaper compared to its bottled or canned items.

Filipinos use nearly 60 billion sachets and about 17.5 billion shopping plastic bags annually, according to an audit produced by environment group the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

The “shocking” amount of plastic disposed in the country places the Philippines among the world’s top contributor of marine plastic pollution, along with China, Vietnam and Indonesia, GAIA said.