Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LGU's starting to wage war against plastic

THE MUNTINLUPA city government ordinance banning the use by business
establishments of plastic and styrofoam as packaging materials is
commendable. The ordinance gives Muntinlupa businesses until Jan. 17
to comply fully with the regulation.

Implementation, of course, will be the real test of how helpful this
ordinance is in reducing plastic use. If penalties for violations are
not stiff enough, this could go the way of many other good
legislations—more honored in the breach.

I also hope that the ordinance also covers street food hawkers and
ambulant vendors. A lot of the plastic that clogs drains and waterways
come from the palamig, kakanin and other things that people buy from
street merchants.

Many big establishments have already taken steps to reduce the use of
plastic packaging materials so it may not be so difficult to make them
comply with the ordinance. But street vendors might not even try to
find substitutes for plastic if authorities do not make them obey the

Manila may also soon have a similar ordinance, although this one will
target specifically “thin plastic bags.” It was reported that District
2 councilor Numero G. Lim had prepared Draft Ordinace 7272 that would
prohibit the use, sale or manufacture of the packaging materials.

Lim was quoted as saying the thin plastic could not be recycled and
the items were often just carelessly thrown anywhere, on sidewalks and

In the wake of these government initiatives to regulate the use of
plastic, the environmental group Eco-waste Coalition had recommended
the revival of the use of the bayong as shopping bag. I like the
bayong but I hope the organization will also make sure a revival, if
it happens, will not endanger a finite resource.

Travelling around the Philippines I have heard people say some of
their traditional crafts have died for lack of raw materials due to
overharvesting. This is particularly true of banig-weaving in many

What about Tupperware?

Given the growing “anti-plastic” sentiment, it seems reasonable to
wonder if Tupperware, one of the oldest and most prominent brands in
plasticware, will have to reinvent itself, too. Not that the company
has not changed over the years.

It launched recently new items for its men’s, women’s and infant
lines. Of course, plastic remains the Tupperware’s most identifiable
product. And Ronald Rodriguez says the company will remain “plastic.”

He says Tupperware’s durability is one of its major advantages and
what makes it environmentally friendly.

Durability allows the product to be used again and again so there
would be no need to worry about plastic disposal. This is also the
reason why the company does not have a “retrieval scheme,” a system
for getting back old products.

Rodriguez says Tupperware lasts for many many years, considerably
reducing the frequency of disposing. And even if products no longer
perform at the optimum level for food storage, it can remain useful
for many more years as storage for nonfood items.

As for concerns about toxic chemicals in plastic, he says, “All
(Tupperware) products have passed stringent quality tests and are made
from safe, non-toxic, non-carcinogenic materials. No harmful chemicals
leach into food and liquid contents of a Tupperware because the
materials used are of the highest quality, food-grade virgin materials
that have undergone the strictest quality control procedures.”

He adds that materials used for Tupperware products exceed standards
set by the United States Food and Drug Administration and Japan’s
Polyolefin Hygenic Association.


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