The plastic ban
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The proposed ordinance prohibiting the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers is going to go for a second try this week as Councilor Em Legaspi-Ang will reintroduce the measure with amendments that could change the minds of the Bacolod councilors who voted against it during the third and final reading.
The proposed ban on the ubiquitous plastic bag that is used at the conclusion of most retail transactions in this country, from wet markets to supermarkets, sari-sari stores to shopping malls, is a well-meaning measure that has the potential to solve the twin problems of garbage and flooding in one fell swoop. We all know that plastic bags make up a majority of our garbage and that its uncanny ability to clog up storm drains and waterways make it one of the major causes of flooding, but a simple ban, while it may sound like a stroke of genius, may not be enough to solve those problems if it proves impossible to enforce, and does not provide any viable alternatives.
Legislating a ban is the easy part. Coming up with the ways and means to enforce it on one of the most common items in modern Filipino life will be the tough part. If the ordinance does not allocate resources, assign accountability and leaves out the details of the execution itself to the executive branch of local government, it is doomed to suffer the fate of all the other well-intentioned measures that die a natural death in the graveyard of unenforced laws. If this city cannot even enforce the law against jaywalking, how are we to expect that a ban on plastic bags will have any effect?
The proposed measure must also come up with viable alternatives to plastic bags if it plans to totally ban their use. If not, businesses and people will general will surely find substitutes that could be just as dangerous to the environment and society. Even if enforcement is spotty, practical alternatives can make the application and enforcement of this measure easier.
The ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam packaging is one measure that can have a profound effect on society and the environment. Maybe it was meant to fail the first attempt so that it can be fine-tuned and revised so that it has a better chance of doing what it was meant to do. Let’s hope that those pushing it do not waste this opportunity.*