Following recent floods in Metro Manila with the onset of the rainy season, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. vowed to re-file in the coming 16th Congress his bill seeking to regulate the use of plastic bags and promote the use of biodegradable materials nationwide.
Earlier, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) blamed garbage dumped into waterways, particularly non-biodegradable materials such as plastics, as the main culprit for the worsening floods in Metro Manila.
Quoting a November 2010 waste audit conducted by various environmental groups, Marcos noted that 75.55% of the total volume of trash in Manila Bay was plastic discards and styrofoam products.
“This bill seeks to address this serious ecological malady. It proposes to regulate the use of plastic materials in order to minimize land-based sources of pollution, and increase efforts to protect water quality,” Marcos said.
The bill advocates reusable, biodegradable bags made of a washable material that does not contain lead or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts, and designed and manufactured for at least 100 uses by customers.
Under the proposal, stores would be prohibited from providing single-use plastic carryout bags and instead make available to their customers for free or for fee reusable, biodegradable bags.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is mandated under the bill to establish additional standards for reusable, biodegradable plastic bags.
Manufacturers and distributors of such bags also need to get certification from the DENR that their products comply with the standards.
Stores found violating the provisions of the bill face a fine of at least P5,000 for the first offense and up to P10,000 for succeeding violations.
On the other hand manufacturers or resellers of biodegradable bags found submitting false information to the DENR face a fine of up to P50,000 per violation but not exceeding P150,000.
“Through this bill, consumers are encouraged to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of plastic bags, thereby saving the fragile life of our environment,” Marcos stressed.