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Local governments should review policy ban on plastics

/ 11:25 PM October 14, 2012

Local government units should backpedal on the ban-plastics policy. It seems to have been rushed, if not flawed.

Here’s why:

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1. In Toronto, Los Angeles and elsewhere, the plastic ban (grocery bags) is meant to reduce the clogging of landfills. In Metro Manila, we blame plastic for waterway congestion and waist-deep floods. The 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) are meant to divert trash from landfills. Why are trash by the truckloads afloat on waterways and end up in Manila Bay? Why?

2. Let’s not be swayed by plastic slogans—pro or anti—here and abroad. British Columbia (BC) province in Canada has not followed Toronto’s ban. And yet it has already reached 55 percent of its 80-percent recycling goal. (Metro Manila’s goal is 11 percent.) BC’s Premier Christy Clark thinks “most Vancouverites are sufficiently motivated to use cloth bags even without a ban.” It is “debatable” whether or not plastic bags are environmentally more sound than paper bags. The “evidence is mixed”!

3. Authorities place Metro Manila’s trash at 8,000 tons daily, consisting of the following: kitchen waste, 45 percent; paper, 17 percent. Where’s plastic? It’s 16 percent! Others, 22 percent! Is the tonnage based on dump-truck arrivals in landfills? And inclusive of factory waste? Trash per capita in Metro Manila, which has a population density of 25,000 per sq km, is reported at half a kilo per day. Compare this to Metro Vancouver’s 3.97 kilos (industrials excluded) and population density of 1,000.

Should the Metro Manila Development Authority revisit Metro’s trash data? There are media reports that in the next 30 years, Metro’s waste collection will entail garbage trucks to queue “over halfway to the moon.” In Metro alone, LGUs spend a staggering P3.54 billion (based on the 2003 population) yearly on waste collection and disposal. So, recycle!

4. The LGUs are hush on water bottles. It takes 1 million years for a water bottle to break down in landfills, and 500 years for a tin can (Richmond, BC Recycling Report).

It’s time for Manila Water and Maynilad to promote the culture of drinking straight from household faucets and to patronize pricey bottled water only when outside their homes. In Senate hearings, only water in pitchers should be served, as done in BC council hearings—for TV viewers to emulate. Will the Local Water Utilities Administration take the lead?

In Vancouver, 70 percent of its residents drink tap water; the same 70 percent drink bottled water when outside their homes for convenience. Plastic beverage containers account for “one-fifth of 1 percent of the waste stream.”

5. Here, kitchen trash is stored in used grocery plastic bags, conveniently retrieved by trucks the morning after. Visualize the roadside littered with trash and flies, unless the LGUs distribute bins free of charge.

A recycling industry official was quoted by Vancouver Sun: “It has more to do with civic education than plastic, caring for the environment.”—MANUEL Q. BONDAD, [email protected]

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TAGS: ban-plastics policy, Environmental issues, local government, plastics
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