Sunday, January 23, 2011

Consumers, small-time traders slam Munti plastics ban

Some shoppers and small-time traders are questioning Muntinlupa City’s ban on plastic bags and polystyrene packaging, saying large businesses are the ones really benefiting from the recently implemented ordinance.

Widow Rosemarie Perdon sells made coffee and cooked noodles at night outside the Muntinlupa City public market to support her three children. She said she is now considering becoming her neighbor’s laundrywoman because she can no longer keep up with the “high cost” of paper cups and plates she now has to use since the ban was implemented last Tuesday.

Showing her newly bought paper containers, Perdon said she used to buy Styrofoam cups for P17 to P20 per 50 pieces. Now, she has to shell out P60 pesos to buy the same number of paper-made containers.

“The huge difference in prices has even caused other vendors to quit business,” she further claimed, adding her market budget has spiked from P500 to P800.

A group of fish vendors who declined to be identified said they “lost a big portion of their earnings” due to the ban. “Our kids sell plastic bags every weekend for their pocket money during school days. But they were forced to stop because it’s no longer allowed and we do not like to be fined,” one woman vendor said.

Some shoppers said they will no longer patronize the malls and markets in Muntinlupa because they have to buy or provide cloth bags to carry the goods they purchase. They said the mall owners themselves have to provide alternatives to plastic bags, at no charge, to consumers.

“This does not even answer how we are going to transport the fish we buy. If you don’t use plastic bags for wet goods, what are you going to use? A bayong? It takes a lot of water to clean it, and that doesn’t make it environment-friendly. Why punish consumers who wish to buy fresh meat, poultry or fish?” a woman shopper said.

Another buyer asked who else would benefit from the citywide ban, aside from those selling “environment-friendly” bags.
Mayor Aldrin San Pedro said the local government is creating ways to provide cheaper bags for its residents - the Organisasyong Kababaihan ng Muntinlupa, an organization led by his wife, Leah, sells bayong made of water lilies for P50 to P60 each. He said the ordinance has provided jobs to unemployed women and funded the organization’s projects.

San Pedro belittled complaints that the ordinance would burden consumers.

“They can bring their own bags. They are not being obliged to purchase these products. I’m sure they have extra bags at home. This is a minor burden to consumers as compared to bad effects of plastic in the environment,” he said.

San Pedro debunked criticisms that the ordinance was pro-rich. “How can it be pro-rich when the victims of the floods are the poor and not those who live in Ayala Alabang? It’s the poor that we are protecting here,” he said

He also said when typhoon “Ondoy” inundated Metro Manila last year, eight of their barangays were submerged under floodwaters. The government, he said, had to shell out P2.3 million to declog drainage systems, waterways, and rivers – when the fund could have spent for pro-poor programs.


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