Muntinlupa City’s Plastic Bag Ban (Philippines)

By: Josh Kizler

On January 18, 2011 Muntinlupa City, located on the south end of the Manila metro vicinity, became the first major urban centre in the Philippines to ban the use of plastic bags. Ordinance 10-109, which also bans polystyrene containers, is stricter than many laws in other countries in that it prohibits the offering of bags for wet meat and fish products. Numerous bans have excluded plastic bags for such use, citing health justifications for packaging meat and fish separately in order to prevent cross-contamination with other food items.

Severe flooding in Muntinlupa has been attributed to plastic bags and other non-biodegradable packaging which clog waterways and prevent proper water flow. The ordinance, signed into law by Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and lauded by local environmental groups, is expected to ease such water-flow problems and to stimulate similar bans throughout the Manila metro area. “By insisting to enforce the ban, Muntinlupa will become an environmental leader among local government units with the bold measure to reduce plastic litter and promote ecological values”, touted Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority in his support of the bill.

However, not all reactions to the ban, which imposes fines and potential prison time, have been positive. In addition to industry opposition, the city’s Environmental Sanitation Center must address the public’s hesitancy to accept the change. While some contest the ban based on an unwillingness to modify their use of plastic bags, others founded their arguments in business. Many street vendors selling drinks see no viable alternative with which to package their merchandise. Small shops who sell nothing but fresh meat and fish cannot afford the expensive paper often used by larger shops as a packaging substitute for plastic bags, and many consumers cannot afford to purchase reusable bags.

Whether or not the rest of Manila and the Philippines emulate Muntinlupa’s ban will soon be seen, and will likely depend upon the ban’s results in Muntinlupa.

For articles on the Muntinlupa ban:

Manila Standard Today

gulfnews.com

Inquirer Headlines