Government units confused on plastic ban, says study

The lack of clear guidelines on the ban on plastic bags has resulted in confusion among consumers and small vendors while some of the local government units themselves have different interpretations of the ordinance.

These are some of the findings of the study conducted by the Solid Waste Management Association of the Philippines (SWAPP) on four LGUs that ban plastic bags for dry goods and restrict their use for wet goods.

For one, there is confusion and different interpretations of the products classified as either dry or wet goods and this affects the enforcement of the ordinance, it said.

The SWAPP study, funded by the Ayala Foundation, covered four local government units (LGUs) where a ban is now in effect: Los Banos, Calamba, San Pablo in Laguna, and Muntinlupa city.

“Even the members of the monitoring team seem to have different interpretations of the law, hence, creating further confusion among the targeted sectors,” the study said, adding that LGUs should clarify which types of plastic are to be prohibited or regulated and which are exempted.

Consumers, for instance, complain that market vendors use newspaper to wrap dried fish, which is not hygienic as the packaging sticks to the dried tinapa. In one city covered by the study, a barangay official penalized all stories using plastic bags, including those selling wet goods like food, fruits, etc.

The local plastic industry has warned against the use of recycled paper as substitute packaging material for food, saying this has dioxins that are harmful to one’s health. Rather than a ban, it is urging authorities to give consumers a choice between plastic and paper or other alternative materials.

Some shoppers covered by the study said it was more expensive to use the alternatives compared to the free plastic bags being given away by stores. Others have complained about the durability of paper bags and the impracticality of carrying them around especially when it is raining.

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/June/08)

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