“There’s no assurance that those biodegradable plastics would not clog rivers and canals and be eaten by endangered marine animals unless there’s a major shift in people’s behavior towards sustainable lifestyle” — Juland Suazo, Panalipdan spokesperson
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Davao City’s ban on plastic and Styrofoam, that took effect on June 27, is going well according to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro). But an environmental group says the ban hurt small vendors.
The group also says the public still needs to be educated on solid waste management if the city wants to sustain its environment protection.
Cenro head lawyer Joseph Dominic Felizarta said the implementation of the ban on the use of non-biodegradable plastics in Davao is going fine as big and small business establishments in the city are already following the use of biodegradable plastics in their operations.
Felizarta also noted his office apprehended 430 violators. These violations are now referred to the City Legal Office for documentation and possible filing of charges in court.
The ban took effect with a city ordinance in compliance with Republic Act 9003, known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Program.
The city now has 10 companies manufacturing biodegradable plastics for businesses, which Cenro is closely monitoring its production through manual sampling during inspections.
But for the environmental group Panalidpan (Defend) Southern Mindanao, the city’s enforcement of the ban has its weakness.
According to Panalipdan spokesperson Juland Suazo, the ban has hurt vendors who have to spend more in buying biodegradable plastics.
“There are politics and economics on the plastic ban. The government does not consider poor vendors who do business not to gain profits but to survive. The ordinance badly hit their income but the government did not provide them any form of assistance,” Suazo said.
“Business companies engaged in producing biodegradable plastic bags see this opportunity for profit-making,” he added.
Panalipdan said the city government must not rest on monitoring and apprehending violators.
Suazo pointed out that it is not the kind of plastic that causes harm to the environment but the mentality of the people in throwing their wastes.
“The most pressing problem is not the change (into biodegradable) material but the people’s behavior on where, when and how to dispose plastics properly,” he said, adding that, “There’s no assurance that those biodegradable plastics would not clog rivers and canals and be eaten by endangered marine animals unless there’s a major shift in people’s behavior towards sustainable lifestyle.”
Suazo recommends further information and education drive by government and civil society on solid waste management “or the 3Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Cenro said disposing and segregation of wastes is the responsibility of the villages. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)