Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Remember Ondoy: Carlos Celdran to stop using plastic bags

On Facebook, Carlos Celdran swears off using plastic
bags in his store.  We wish others would do the same.

Carlos Celdran announced on Facebook that he will no longer be using plastic bags in his store and this announcement comes just right in time as we all revisit our memories of the Ondoy floods that hit us almost exactly a year ago.

Carlos, in a prior status update, also said that several provinces have banned the use of plastic bags.

Jarius Bondoc, one of Metro Manila's most read columnists, also related that the entire state of California has or will ban plastic bags.

Friends in congress have also informed me of a bill filed by Congressman Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara called "The Plastic Bag Recycling Act of 2010".

The explanatory note of HB 496 reads:

This Act shall be known as “The Plastic Bag Recycling Act of 2010” which seeks to reduce or minimize the use of plastic bags.
Plastic bags are easily carried by wind, escaping from landfills and garbage bins. Plastic carryout bags and film plastic are not biodegradable. These bags break down into smaller toxic bits that contaminate soil and waterways and enter into the food web when animals accidentally ingest those materials, and that these pieces can last for more than 1,000 years.
What’s wrong with plastic bags? Plastic bags are seen as a symbol of wasteful society as they are a form of packaging that is often not essential. As a single use disposable form of packaging, plastic bags are typically used for a short period of time but take hundreds of years to break down in landfill. Plastic bags are extremely visible and unsightly component of litter.
Salient provisions of this bill requires that retailers establish an at-store recycling program and to offer reusable bags (such as canvas or cloth). It is about time that we reduce the use plastic bags and encourage the use of reusable bags for the benefit of our environment.

This is the second house bill that I've been informed about that will, if enacted into law, help prevent the occurrence of another flood as bad as Ondoy.

Few people make the connection between plastic pollution and the Ondoy floods last year or the regular floods that we have in Metro Manila every time it rains.

Yes, the Ondoy Typhoon was powerful and it did dump an unprecedented amount of water on Metro Manila.  Yes, there is an absolute lack of urban planning in Metro Manila and this is the reason why our flood control systems (if it can be called that) is simply inadequate.  Yes to all the other factors that contributed to the Ondoy Floods.

However, one single factor that perhaps aggravated the whole mess that was Ondoy was that most of Metro Manila's drainages and waterways were clogged full of plastic.

The plastic that plugged most storm drains are not just from grocery bags or single use sando bags, but discarded plastic containers (sachets, pouches, etcetera).

The biggest producer of products in plastic packaging are companies like Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Nestle, and San Miguel.

It is estimated that Unilever ALONE produces some 16 square kilometers of plastic packaging and THIS IS ROUGHLY THE SURGACE AREA OF THE PASIG RIVER.

Can you imagine just how much plastic packaging is produced by all of these companies?

In his radio program, Jarius Bondoc said that in Europe, manufacturers of plastic products are MADE RESPONSIBLE for the disposal of the plastic wastes that their products produce.

In other words, the responsibility of these companies to minimize the environment impact of their operations ARE MADE TO EXTEND BEYOND THE GATES OF THEIR MANUFACTURING PLANTS.

This is why Unilever Philippine's crowing about how it cleans its plant's waste water is OF NO SIGNIFICANCE to the real task of CLEANING UP the plastic pollution it GENERATES. 

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