Thursday, November 4, 2010

EcoWaste calls for affordable eco-friendly bags

BEGINNING today and every Wednesday thereafter, more malls and
supermarkets will observe "Reusable Bag Day" by not providing free
plastic bags for their customers’ purchases or charging them a fee for
preferring plastic bags.

The "Reusable Bag Day Campaign" was launched last month by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with
the National Solid Waste Management Commission, Earth Day Philippines
Network, and the retail industry under the Philippine Amalgamated
Supermarkets Association, Philippine Retailers Association and some
other participating stores.

Some of the bigger outlets like the Ayala Malls, Ever Malls, Hi-Top
Supermarket, Isetann Malls, Makro, Robinson’s Supermart, Savemore, and
SM Hypermart have been implementing this for some time now despite
initial resistance from customers.

The campaign calls for concerted efforts to shift public consciousness
from using plastic bags to reusable bags to address the environmental
hazard posed by improper disposal of plastic bags.

The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition, however, appealed to
participating retailers to bring down the price of their eco-friendly
bags for the benefit of consumers on tight budgets. The group said the
current price of reusable bags which range from P25 to P295 each will
not attract ordinary consumers who might want an alternative to
plastic bags but cannot afford the reusable bags’ price.

"Budget-conscious consumers, even if they appreciate the ecological
benefits of reusable bags, are put off buying anything expensive,"
said Sonia Mendoza of the EcoWaste’s Task Force on Plastics.

EcoWaste said Hi-Top’s reusable bags are P25 each; SM, P35 each;
National Book Store, P65; Healthy Options, P75; Robinson’s, P90;
Shopwise/Rustan, P99.50 for canvas and P60 for waterproof bags; and
Body Shop, P295 each.

"We definitely welcome the initiative of these market leaders to
introduce eco-friendly bags and we hope that more supermarkets and
stores will join the green bandwagon," Mendoza said. "Any scheme that
will allow consumers to get their reusable bags for free or at a
discounted or subsidized price will hopefully bring about increased
preference and demand for reusable bags,"

Mendoza suggested the promotion of home-based, job-generating industry
in the provinces, with support from the private and public sectors,
that can flood the market with more affordable and durable
eco-friendly bags made from non-plastic, cloth-based, and
locally-sourced materials, knowing that plastic reusable bags will
soon disintegrate and pose disposal problems.

Ecowaste advised retailers to encourage their customers to make and
bring their own reusable bags by providing financial and non-financial
rewards such as discount, rebate, movie or museum pass for
earth-friendly buyers.

Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Philippine Earth Justice Center advised
consumers to make a "financial sacrifice" and spend money for reusable
bags – if they are not able to make their own – for the sake of the
environment. She pointed out that Chapter IV of RA 9003 provides for
various incentives to encourage and support local government units,
business enterprises, non-government organizations and other entities
to actively implement ecological solid waste management, including
waste prevention, reduction, reuse and recycling activities.


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