May 6, 2021

Philippine city to ban single-use plastics and utensils in 2020

2 min read

MANILA (ANN): Starting next year, Quezon City will ban single-use utensils, whether made of plastic or paper, as well as plastic bags—a momentous step for the biggest city in a country that accounts for an outsize share of plastic waste globally.

At a press conference on Sunday (Dec 1), Mayor Joy Belmonte announced the sweeping policy as outlined in two ordinances signed in October that attempt to deal with the city’s voluminous waste, composed mostly of nonrecyclable materials.

City Ordinance No. SP-2868 amended an existing ordinance that required “Type 1” retail establishments like supermarkets, department stores and pharmacies to charge P2 for plastic bags. Starting on Jan 1, there will be a total ban, with no option to pay a fee for a plastic bag.

On the other hand, City Ordinance No. SP-2876, which bans single-use plastic and paper utensils, will take effect in February to allow businesses a three-month transition period.

This ordinance will apply to fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and any other place that have “set up tables and chairs within their area of business for purposes of allowing customers to consume meals, snacks [and] refreshments, ” said Councilor Dorothy Delarmente.

Delarmente, who introduced both measures as chair of the committee on parks and environment, said the materials included cups, plates, straws, coffee stirrers, condiment cups and packets—whether made of plastic or paper—and Styrofoam packaging. The ban only applies, however, to those used by dine-in customers.

Aside from eating utensils, the law also bans hotels and other service-oriented businesses from distributing soap, shampoo and similar hygienic items in sachets or single-use containers.

Violators of the ordinance will be fined P1,000 (US$19) on the first offence, an amount that gradually increases to P5,000 (US$98) by the third offence. On the second offence, the enterprise will be issued a cease-and-desist order, while a third offence would lead to its business permit being revoked.

The ordinance on plastic bags will be implemented in two phases. The first will be the total ban on the distribution of plastic bags, while the second phase, effective in two years, will be expanded to include single-use paper bags as well.

The only exception are the plastic bags used to wrap unpacked fresh and cooked foods, typically in wet and dry markets.

The expansive ordinances reflected some of the most drastic measures taken yet by a local government to rein in plastic use. But Belmonte framed it as necessary to “prevent and reduce the generation of waste materials that are hardly recovered and recycled.” – The Philippine Inquirer/Asia News Network