Sunday, January 23, 2011

MMDA urges cities nationwide to adopt ban on plastic bags

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is urging local government units to adopt the ordinance initiated by Muntinlupa City against the use of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials by all business establishments as a sustainable solution to garbage and flooding woes.

“The MMDA strongly encourages local government units to adopt similar strong measures such as these to combat the dangerous effects of environmental degradation which leads to massive flooding and climate change,” said MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino after commending Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro for initiating the ban on plastic in his city.

Tolentino said he would push for the implementation of this measure as a model ordinance to be adopted by the fifteen other cities and one municipality comprising Metro Manila.

He also exhorted other mayors throughout the Philippines to do the same.

Tolentino noted that the damage wrought by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 in Metro Manila and neighboring towns and cities reached up to $4 billion.

The government attributed the floods that accompanied the massive typhoon to the garbage that blocked natural and man-made drainage systems.

“The tragic loss of lives and loved ones is unquantifiable,” he said.

Last Tuesday the City of Muntinlupa started implementing Ordinance No. 10-109, otherwise known as “An ordinance prohibiting the use of plastic bags on dry goods, regulating its utilization on wet goods, and prohibiting the use of Styrofoam” in Muntinlupa City.

In passing the ordinance, the Muntinlupa City Council noted that disposed plastic bags and other non-biodegradable containers are the major causes of flash floods in the city during heavy rains as it clogged canals, three creeks, 11 rivers and other waterways that all drain into the Laguna Lake.

It is the first city in Metro Manila to ban the use of plastic bags for wet and dry goods and Styrofoam/ styrophor as food containers.

The Muntinlupa ordinance bans polystyrene containers, commonly known as “Styrofoam” or “Styropor” for foodstuffs, drinks and other goods. Violators will be meted a fine, while business establishments found violating the ordinance may have their licenses to operate cancelled for up to one year.

Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic with insulation properties and is used in all types of products such as beverage cups and food containers.

A 1986 US Environmental Protection Agency report on solid waste named the polystyrene manufacturing process as the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste. The process of making polystyrene is reported to pollute the air and create large amounts of solid and liquid waste.

Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain, especially when heated in a microwave. These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems.

Polystyrene products are often dumped into the environment as litter which breaks up into pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems.


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