Gradual phase-out of plastic bags in Iloilo City starts

Non-biodegradable plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past in Iloilo City.
This, after the Iloilo City Council approved the ordinance on the Regulation of Non-Biodegradable Plastic Shopping Bags last Tuesday, October 8, 2013.
The ordinance covers all forms of plastic that cannot be broken down by microbes to decay, thus they are called non-biodegradable.
It is applicable to all business establishments and ambulant vendors doing business in Iloilo City.
To give consideration to businesses, the ordinance will be gradually implemented for a period of four years starting its effectivity this year.
For the first year of implementation, all establishments are required to reduce their plastic bags use once a week; second year, twice a week; third year, thrice a week; and fourth year, full implementation.
The ordinance mandates the city environment and natural resources officer (CENRO) to include in the implementing rules and regulations the specific day that the prohibition is imposed. It also has the power to implement the ordinance and arrest violators with the support of the police.
Meanwhile, those that can be packed using plastic bags with no handles, holes or strings commonly used as primary packaging or wrapping of the same, provided they do not exceed 8 inches in width and 12 inches in length (8 x 12) in its unexpanded form, are; food items with liquid consistency, including hot or cold cooked food such as those sold in restaurants, carenderias, eateries, and the like; and items such as flour, sugar, coffee, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, ice, ice candy and the like.
The ordinance also promotes the use of alternative packaging materials like reusable bags, woven bags (bayong), cloth bags, rattan baskets, shopping bags made from recycled waste paper and other bags made out of biodegradable materials (e.g. banana leaves, taro leaves, water lily, corn stalk, etc.).
Establishments are also encouraged to provide incentives for the use of environment-friendly packaging or wrapping materials, which may include the establishment of a Point System Scheme or Express Lane for customers.
VIOLATIONS
There are corresponding penalties for violators. For the first offense, there is a P500 fine and confiscation of the non-biodegradable plastic bags. For the second offense, there is a P700 fine, confiscation of non biodegradable plastic bags and suspension of business permit for a period of one week. For the third and subsequent offenses, there is a P1,000 fine, confiscation of non-biodegradable plastic bags, and cancellation of business permit.
Ordinance proponent Councilor Lex Tupas said earlier that leaders of several market vendors associations in Iloilo City have expressed their support to the ordinance.
Tupas said some market vendors said they have felt the effects of climate change, too.
“Nagbaskog pa gid ang atun kampanya sa pagproteksyon sang atun kalibutan, dunang manggad kag maayu nga puturo sang atun kabataan pati kampanya kontra sa binaha nga makabutang sa delikado sa kabuhi kag makaapekto sang adlaw adlaw nga sitwasyon kag pangabuhi sang mga Ilonggo. To God be the glory and let us move for the strict and appropriate implementation of the ordinance,” he said.

Meanwhile, he encourages the public to use plastic wisely by re-using it instead of throwing it away after one use.* By Kathy M. Villalon/TNT Libre, Oct. 10, 2013

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