Monday, September 20, 2010

Gov’t urged: Ban plastic bags now

Environmental advocates urged Monday the government to ban the use of
plastic bags, saying these contributed to widespread flooding when
Tropical Storm “Ondoy” struck Metro Manila on September 26 last year.

According to members and allies of EcoWaste Coalition, plastic bags
account for most of the litter that clog waterways in the metropolis,
making it difficult for floodwaters to recede after a heavy downpour.

With the first anniversary of Ondoy just five days away, the
environmental group said the public should switch from plastic bags to
reusable ones.

At the same time, it urged the government to impose measures to
discourage the use of plastic bags.

“[Tropical Storm] Ondoy taught us in a deeply painful and costly way
that practices which defile and destroy the ecosystems have no place
in our fragile planet and should stop,” Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste
Coalition president, said.

Floodwaters spawned by heavy rains brought by Ondoy ravaged at least
80 percent of Metro Manila, leaving scores of people dead and
destroying millions of pesos worth of property.

“Our addiction to plastic bags and to everything that is disposable
has exacerbated the effects of the epic flood and made the post-Ondoy
cleanup most difficult,” Alvarez said.

“By switching from disposable plastic bags to reusable bags and
containers, we will dramatically cut our waste size, and clean out our
waterways and [dumps] which are bursting at the seams,” he added.

The group noted that consumers could use alternatives to plastic bags
such as “bayong” and baskets made of biodegradable plant materials.
Old garments and cloth could also be made into bags, it suggested.

“In remembrance of all the people who perished and suffered from the
onslaught of Ondoy, we appeal to all Filipinos, consumers and
retailers alike, to break the plastic habit and embrace a plastic
bag-free and zero-waste lifestyle,” said Gigie Cruz of the Global
Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a member of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Task Force on Plastic.

Based on a 2006 joint survey conducted by EcoWaste Coalition and
Greenpeace, plastic bags and other synthetic packaging materials
comprised 76 percent of the garbage retrieved from Manila Bay.

Half of the 76 percent were plastic carry bags, the survey said. About
19 percent were junk food wrappers and sachets, five percent styrofoam
and one percent hard plastics.


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