Monday, September 20, 2010

Groups seek concerted action vs plastic bags as Ondoy’s first anniversary looms

MANILA, Sept. 20 (PNA) -- As the first anniversary of typhoon Ondoy
nears, waste and climate advocates called upon the Filipino consumers
to give “throw away” culture the boot to restore ecological balance
and health.

The EcoWaste Coalition and allied groups specifically proposed
concerted action to curb crass consumerism as manifested in the
thoughtless use and disposal of plastic bags and other single-use
packaging materials.

“Typhoon 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,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste

“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,” he 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 dumpsites, which are bursting at the seams,” he

In lieu of plastic bags, green advocates recommend the use of
practical reusable alternatives to plastic bags, including the
“bayong” and other baskets made of biodegradable plant materials such
as anahaw, bamboo, buri, coconut, isay, kalagimay, nipa, rattan and
water lily.

In addition, consumers can buy or even design and sew their own
reusable bags from used materials such as rice sacks, flour bags, old
curtains and worn out clothes, they added.

“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.

“We further ask the authorities to act now on our petition to forbid
single-use plastic bags and not wait for the next Ondoy to strike,”
she added.

In June 2009, over 100 groups and individuals signed a petition asking
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the
National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to declare a
unilateral phase out of “thin film single use plastic bags to stop the
plastic invasion of the environment.”

The petition initiated by the EcoWaste Coalition followed the plea by
Dr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of United Nations Environment
Programme, to phase out or ban “thin film single use plastic bags
which choke marine life.”

The much-sought action versus plastic bags, the petitioners said, will
have direct and meaningful environmental, climate, economic and
cultural benefits.

These benefits will include the: 1) protection of the coral reefs and
all marine animals from plastic litter, 2) reduction in the release of
greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other
harmful chemicals associated with the production, consumption and
disposal of plastic bags, and 3) reversal of the “plasticization” of
our lifestyle with the increased promotion and adoption of
eco-friendly and non-toxic choices.

A survey jointly conducted by EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace
volunteers in 2006 revealed that plastic bags and other synthetic
packaging materials comprised 76 percent of the four cubic meters of
garbage retrieved from Manila Bay.

Out of the 76 percent, 51 percent were plastic carry bags, 19 percent
junk food wrappers and sachets, 5 percent styrofoams and one percent
hard plastics. The rest of the recovered trash were rubber at 10
percent and biodegradable wastes 13 percent.


Post a Comment