City Council approves 'no plastic shopping bags' policy

Iloilo City Council unanimously approved the proposal of city council Nielex Tupas for an ordinance regulating the use of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags as wrapping,bagging and or packaging material for establishments operating within the jurisdiction of Iloilo City.

The ordinance to be known as “Nonbiodegradable Plastic Shopping Bag Regulation Ordinance of Iloilo City,” will focus on the city’s recognition of the deleterious effects of the indiscriminate use and disposal of plastics in the wrapping, bagging an packaging of products or commodities by certain establishments in the city.

Tupas said the establishments refer to sari-sari stores,market vendors, hawkers or bolanteros, supermarkets, department store and malls, groceries, restaurants, canteen, fast-food chains, bakeries, coffeehouses, hotels, catering services and other establishments of similar nature that provide and use plastic bags as packing material as a result of the sale.

However, the permissible use of plastic bags in regulated sizes is allowed for food items with liquid consistency including hot or cold cooked food sold in restaurants, carinderias, and eateries.

Plastic bags in regulated sizes are also allowed for items such as flour, sugar, coffee, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, ice and ice candy.

Tupas said the establishments will gradually reduce the use of plastic bags upon implementation of the ordinance. For the first year, the reduction of plastic bags will be once a week. For the second year, the use will be twice a week, and in the third year, thrice a week.

In the fourth year and succeeding years, the ordinance will be fully implemented and all nonbiodegradable plastic bags shall be banned use in all business establishments.

Penalties include P500 fine and confiscation of plastic bags in the first offense; P700 fine and suspension of business permit for one week for the second offense; and P1,000 fine and cancellation of business permit in the third and subsequent offenses.

Tupas admitted that he was pushing for the ordinance for almost 6 years. Initially, he filed the measure in 2008 but was referred to the Solid Waste Management Board.

He refilled it in 2010 but the committee on environment took some time on its endorsement. He refilled on his third and final term last July 2013 and the ordinance got unanimous approval on October 8, 2013. The ordinance got 11 city councilors to sign as co-sponsors of the measure.

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