Local leaders support nationwide single-use plastics ban

Local government leaders expressed support to the passage of the national legislation that will ban and regulate single-use plastics (SUPs) in the country during the 12th episode of The Climate Reality Project Philippines’ Klimatotohanan webcast series.

San Fernando City Mayor Edwin David Santiago, Quezon City Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon, and Davao City Councilor Diosdado Mahipus, Jr. said they are supporting House Bill No. 9417, which seeks to establish a tiered phase-out of SUPs, shift the responsibility on producers to recover plastic waste to prevent leakage to bodies of water and harm to the environment, and require commercial establishments to promote the use of highly reusable, recyclable, and retrievable products.

Explaining why he is in favor of the proposed legislation, Mayor Santiago said that more people in San Fernando City, Pampanga now recognize the advantages of going back to the basics, such as the use of reusable baskets, in their respective communities.

Mayor Santiago led the enactment of San Fernando City’s Plastic Free Ordinance of 2014, leading to a complete ban of plastic bags in 2015. Under his leadership, the city’s high waste diversion rate earned them the recognition of being a zero-waste model city.

“Sabi ko nga isama na sa Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) ‘yan [enactment of single-use plastics regulations] eh. Bakit ang Quezon City, Davao, nagagawa nila? Bakit yung iba hindi nagagawa?” Mayor Santiago said.

The SGLG refers to the institutionalized award, incentive, honor, and recognition-based program that encourages local government units (LGUs) to improve their performance across various governance areas, including environmental management.

Councilor Delarmente, meanwhile, shared that the Quezon City Council has been monitoring Committee Hearings on House Bill No. 9147 in the House of Representatives. “We in Quezon City, headed by Mayor Joy Belmonte, Vice Mayor Gian Sotto, and all the councilors, are in total support of the nationwide ban or regulation against plastics,” she said.

Changing consumer behavior and election practices on SUPs

Asked about what advice she can give to other LGUs that are planning to pass an ordinance on SUPs, Councilor Delarmente said that implementing a strategic and gradual phase-out of SUPs will help citizens to adjust properly and change their consumption patterns.

She cited what they did in Quezon City, wherein they regulated first the use of plastic bags from 2012 to 2020 before totally banning them this year. “So bayad ka ng dalawang piso kung gusto mo ng plastic para magkaroon sila ng lifestyle change na magbaon sila ng ecobag pag namimili. Now, since nasanay na ang mga taga-QC na may dala silang ecobag lagi, saka namin pinasa ‘yung total ban of plastic bags,” she explained, saying that the city will eventually phase out other SUPs, such as plastic straws and utensils, which are now only allowed for takeout and food delivery services.
Pointing out the upcoming election season, Councilor Delarmente also encouraged other LGUs to enact an ordinance banning the use of plastic materials as campaign posters—a local policy that was enacted in Quezon City in 2013.

Delayed list NSWMC list of  non-environmentally acceptable products

Aside from voicing out his support to the proposed national law on SUPs, Councilor Mahipus called on the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) for a list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAPs). He said the list will help local efforts to eradicate unnecessary single-use plastics.

Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act mandates the NSWMC to prepare, within one year from the effectivity of the law, the list of NEAPs to be banned following a phase-out plan that will be developed in consultation with stakeholders. However, after 20 years, NSWMC has yet to develop a list of NEAPs, which should include SUPs.

Councilor Dizon, author of Cebu City’s Ordinances on Prohibiting Single-Use Plastics in all Public Events and Prohibiting Improper Disposal of Facemasks and PPE [personal protective equipment], said he is supporting the planned lawsuit of Oceana Philippines and other concerned groups against the NSWMC for its “gross failure to implement relevant provisions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which have worsened the plastic pollution we are facing in our country.”

Need for more R&D on SUP alternatives

Citing the concerns of the food and beverage industry in Davao City during consultation sessions for the No to Single-Use Plastics Ordinance of 2021, which was passed last March, Councilor Mahipus also called on the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to pursue more research and development (R&D) and provide capacity building for LGUs.

Climate Reality Leader Adrian Camposagrado, who served as a youth reactor during the webcast, joined Councilor Mahipus’ call for more R&D initiatives to support the phase-out of SUPs. “Our fight against single-use plastics is also a science-based issue,” he said as he explains the crucial role of DOST and DENR to find ways to commercialize promising SUP alternatives to make them more accessible to the public.

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