31 March 2010

PRESIDENTIAL BETS SUPPORT BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS (Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition release 2nd Installment of Green Survey Results)

Quezon City. Here is one positively good news for Mother Earth that might put an end to the most visible environmental scourge of our modern era: banning plastic bags.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace revealed the good news in the second installment of the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey results - this time focusing on the issue of ecological solid waste management. The 2010 GEI was organized to ascertain the environmental platforms and programs of those running for the presidency.

Seven of the nine presidential bets who responded to the survey favor an outright or eventual ban on single-use plastic bags and other plastic-based disposable containers, which have been largely blamed for clogging waterways and causing floods and ocean pollution.

These seven candidates were Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Sen. Manny Villar, Coun. JC de los Reyes, environmentalist Nicky Perlas and evangelist Eddie Villanueva. Former Pres. Erap Estrada and Defense Sec. Gibo Teodoro did not participate
in the GEI, thereby earning zero points in the ranking process.

In supporting a ban on plastic bags, the presidential aspirants cited the obvious issue of wastefulness as well as the ecological harm resulting from the unchecked disposal of plastic trash in dumpsites, storm drains and water bodies.

Some of the candidates proposed specific measures to curb plastic bag consumption in the country - which, according to Madrigal, amounts to 16 million plastic bags daily - including the imposition of taxes and disincentives as proposed both by Gordon and Perlas and the implementation of vigorous efforts to maximize plastic waste recovery, reuse and recycling as espoused by Aquino and Villar.

“The expressed intent of the seven presidential bets to act against plastics pollution should send a strong signal to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) about the urgent need to impose a policy that will effectively phase out and ultimately ban single-use plastic bags. The Commission has been remiss in performing this mandate, opting to kowtow instead to the the vested interests of plastic manufacturers,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

For his part, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez said that banning single-use plastic bags is vital in solving the waste crisis. "Together with the front-end approaches of waste segregation, composting and recycling - prohibiting and deterring the use of plastic bags and other environmentally unsound packaging will considerably reduce the volume of waste and help avert a host of associated environmental problems," he said.

The panel of non-partisan GEI evaluators gave Perlas 8.3 points for his clear-cut proposals on how to improve the implementation of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and move the country away from dirty waste disposal towards Zero Waste.

Gordon ranked second with 7.65 points, Madrigal 7.6, Villanueva 6.66, Aquino 6.15, Villar 5.4 and de los Reyes 2.15. Estrada and Teodoro both got zero points for not responding to the survey.

Perlas presented a five-point action plan, including 1) accelerating the adoption of zero waste management, 2) restructuring the whole garbage disposal system to enable segregation at source, composting of organic wastes, recycling of non-biodegradable waste, and proper disposal of toxic wastes (including medical wastes), 3) establishing strategic partnerships with civil society and business, 4) highlighting and rewarding cities and towns that have exemplary solid waste management systems, and 5) instituting a well thought-out system of taxes and incentives that can address the challenge of plastic waste and promote sustainable waste management.

“I would give local governments a firm deadline to properly implement their waste management plans, but if they continue to fail, I will not hesitate to use my powers of supervision and control as chief executive,” Gordon said.

For her part, Madrigal declared that she will direct the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources within the first 100 days of her office to submit an inventory report of non-compliant local government units and demand immediate accountability.

“Zero Waste must be deeply ingrained in our citizens as a cultural practice for it to have nationwide impact,” commented Villanueva.

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