31 January 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Muntinlupa Ordinance to Curb “White Pollution”

Quezon City. The environmental advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition commended the Muntinlupa City Government for enacting a timely ordinance that intends to reduce “white pollution.”

“We laud the people and government of Muntinlupa City for initiating a vital step, which if effectively pursued, will help minimize 'white pollution' and contribute to environmental conservation and protection,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of Mother Earth Foundation and coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics.

"White pollution" refers to the numerous problems associated with the unchecked use and disposal of plastic trash, including plastic bags, foam containers and other plastic materials that ruin the landscape, clog waterways, cause flashfloods, choke the oceans and produce toxic byproducts when burned.

“We congratulate them for caring for Mother Earth by banning plastic bags and other plastic disposables starting next year and by encouraging lifestyle change through the promotion of bayong and other ecological alternatives,” she said.

Muntinlupa City Ordinance 10-109, authored by Councilor Joselito Arevalo and approved by Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, prohibits the use of plastic bags as packing materials for dry goods, and as primary packing materials for wet goods such as fish, poultry and meat.

It likewise prohibits the use of Styrofoam/styrophor and other similar materials as containers for food, produce and other products, and bars business establishments from offering or selling plastic bags as primary or secondary packing materials for dry goods.

Violators will be fined P500 for the first offense, P1,000 for the second offense and P2,500 plus imprisonment of six months for the third offense.

The plastic ban will take effect on 18 January 2011 to give business establishments ample time to comply, while the city authorities conduct “massive information campaign” to educate the citizens and the business community.

“Muntinlupa City is now in the same league as Beijing, New Delhi, San Francisco and many other cities in China, India, USA and other countries that have enacted measures to curb plastic pollution,” Rei Panaligan, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out.

“Other local authorities in Metro Manila can take their cue from Muntinlupa City and adopt similar or even bolder measures to rid the surroundings of plastic trash,” he added.

The municipalities of Carmona, Cavite, Los Banos and Paete, Laguna and Lucban, Quezon have already imposed regulations and bans on plastic bags, the EcoWaste Coalition noted

“We hope that Muntinlupa City Ordinance 10-109 will succeed and inspire other local government units to lead the fight against 'white pollution' and unsustainable consumption,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition on 16 June 2009 petitioned the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NWSMC) to ban plastic bags “to stop the flow of plastic litter into the oceans from dumpsites, beaches and other sources.”

The petition was signed by more than 100 groups and individuals, including presidential candidates Councilor JC de los Reyes and environmentalist Nicanor Perlas.

In response, the NSWMC Technical Working Group drafted Resolution 30-2009 on 25 June 2009 that calls for the banning of thin film, single use plastic that has remained unsigned until today.

NSWMC Executive Director Gerardo V. Calderon told the EcoWaste Coalition in a letter dated 15 July 2009 that the signing of the said resolution has been deferred “to further assess the necessity and its implications to the plastic industry.”
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