16 June 2009

100 Groups Urge DENR and NSWMC to Ban Single Use Plastic Bags

Quezon City. Over 100 groups and individuals, including three “non-trapo” presidential hopefuls, today petitioned the government to introduce a ban on single-use plastic bags to halt what they call the “plastic invasion of the environment.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, submitted the broadly-endorsed “Petition to Ban Plastic Bags” to Sec. Lito Atienza of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Asst. Sec. Gerardo Calderon of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

Among those who signed the petition are Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr., several priests and faith-based ecology ministries, “balik-bayong” celebrities Roy Alvarez and Chin-Chin Gutierrez, environmentalists Dr. Angelina Galang, Von Hernandez, Dr. Helen Mendoza, Sonia Mendoza, Joey Papa and Eileen Sison, organic farmers Bernie Aragoza, Isagani Serrano, Vic Tagupa and Roberto Verzola, labor leader Josua Mata, and many other students, professionals and activists.

Also backing the ban on single use plastic bags are reform presidential candidates Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, John Carlos de los Reyes (Ang Kapatiran Party) and Nicanor Perlas (recipient of “Right Livelihood Award” also known as the “Altenative Nobel Prize”), senatorial aspirant Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel (Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party), Danton Remoto (Ang Ladlad Party), Manila Councilor Numero “Uno” Lim (author of a proposed city ordinance on plastic bags) and Atty. Alex Lacson (author of bestseller “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country”).

“We join the EcoWaste Coalition in asking the DENR and the NSWMC to take decisive action now to stop the plastic invasion of the environment that is acutely endangering the marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on marine resources,” the petitioners stated.

“We specifically call on Sec. Atienza and Asst. Sec. Calderon to declare a unilateral phase out of single use plastic bags as an urgent step to stop the flow of plastic litter into the oceans from dumpsites, beaches and other sources,” they said.

Aside from banning the ubiquitous plastic bags, the petitioners urged Sec. Atienza and Asst. Sec. Calderon to fully enforce Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) and pull the plug on both land-based and sea-based sources of marine litter.

The petitioners likewise expressed support for a Zero Waste-focused National Solid Waste Management Strategy that will duly integrate marine litter prevention and reduction.

“This action reflects the shared concern of ocean and climate defenders, sustainable development advocates and enlightened consumers to address the ill effects of unbridled use and disposal of plastic bags,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

The EcoWaste Coalition initiated the petition after the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) weighed into the debate on plastic bags last week, proposing an outright ban on “film thin single-use” plastic carry bags at the launch of the report “Marine Litter: A Global Challenge.”

“We urge the government to take its cue from the World Oceans Day’s plea of Dr. Achim Steiner to phase out or ban single use plastic carry bags,” the petitioners said.

UN Under-Secretary General Steiner, who is also UNEP Executive Director, said that "single-use plastic bags which choke marine life should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere. There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them any more, anywhere."

The petitioners believe that banning single use plastic bags will have direct and meaningful environmental, climate, economic and cultural benefits.

These benefits include the 1) protection of the coral reefs and all marine animals from plastic litter; 2) reduction in the release of greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other harmful chemicals, and the 3) reversal of the “plasticization” of our lifestyle with the increased promotion and adoption of eco-friendly and non-toxic choices.

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