Sep 1, 2012

[Environmentalism] Quezon City Plastic Bag Ordinances (Effective September 2012)

Effective today, September 1, 2012, Quezon City becomes the latest city within Metro Manila to implement new rules related to the use of plastic bags. While other cities have implemented ordinances that outright ban plastic bags, the QC measure is a bit more innovative since it goes down a different path.

First, the simpler ordinance is SP-2130, which requires all business establishments that use plastic bags to have clear and prominent signage encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, such as the image above.

The more comprehensive measure is SP-2140, which requires all establishments that use plastic bags to collect a P2.00 flat fee per plastic bag issued, regardless of size. The fee collected per bag will go to a communal fund to be used for environmental projects in the city. In addition, people can avoid the fee by either bringing their own plastic bags (which oddly, can be exchanged for new ones) or of course bring reusable bags.

The ordinance also requires that people who use reusable bags should be eligible for some sort of a redeemable points system and should be allocated a priority lane for checkout. Those plastic bags that do not have holes, handles or drawstrings such as those used to wrap fresh produce are exempt from the fee.

I like the measure even though it means that we're still going to see a lot of plastic bag usage in the city. The best thing about it is that I feel it will genuinely work to change the way people think about the use of plastic bags as is our usual reaction to small fees added to our bills. This is different from the way other cities have just banned plastic bags, thus having the populance feel that it's more an inconvenience more than anything else and thus leaving customers to still desire to use plastic. In time the government can then revisit the ordinances, check the monitoring sheets to determine who effective the program is and perhaps consider a total ban on plastic in the future.

I really hope it works - and I'll make sure to have my reusable bags always handy.
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