Davao envi group fears proposed ordinance vs SUPs won’t solve plastic waste problem

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 February) —  The Davao City-based environmental group Interface Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) has expressed concern that the proposed measure at the City Council of Davao regulating the single-use plastics (SUPs) may not help address plastic waste pollution here.

Atty. Mark Peñalver, IDIS executive director, told MiindaNews on Sunday that the proposed ordinance, authored by 2nd District Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr., contains provisions for the granting of a “special permit to sell” to be issued by the city mayor for the use of the prohibited plastic.

He said the inclusion of a special permit would be a “blanket exception,” which allows selling of the prohibited/regulated SUPs, provided there is a special permit.

Assorted plastic waste collected on 27 January 2021 during a clean-up drive in Panigan-Tamugan watershed, Davao City’s next source of drinking water. (Photo courtesy of Interface Development Interventions for Sustainability)

Reacting to the statement of Mahipus that the special permit is intended only “during the phase-out period” and “only if there is no alternative in the market,” Peñalver argued there is no need for a permit because the regulated items will be banned one year from the effectivity of the proposed ordinance.

He added that Paragraph 3, Section 5 of the proposed ordinance contemplates only of regulating the “use and distribution for free” of the SUPs but not the selling.

The proposed ordinance prohibits persons, grocery stores, supermarkets, shopping mall and brand outlets, sari-sari stores, food and/or beverage establishments, or any other business establishment or outlet to sell, distribute for free, or use the SUPs without a special permit to sell, or special permit to distribute and/or use SUP products from the city mayor.

The prohibited SUPs include drinking cups lower than 0.2 mm in thickness (including polystyrene 160 cups); ice cream cups, salad cups lower than 0.2 mm in thickness; condiment, sauce or gravy containers lower than 0.2 mm in thickness; cup lids and condiment, sauce or gravy container covers; plastic stirrers; cutleries (spoon, fork, knife or a combination thereof), plastic straws; meal box, tray or “clamshell” packaging; cake and pastry box, tray or “clamshell” packaging;  egg container or “clamshell” packaging; hand gloves; plastic materials used as “buntings”; and plastic materials used as balloon stick.

“As a non-government organization, and a watch dog of the government, we are just doing our job. We intend nothing but to provide clarification and improvement in the ordinance. He (Mahipus) has our full support for the ordinance. But we have to be critical as well and we believe there are specific provisions that need to be clarified and improve to really ascertain the intent of the policy,” Peñalver said.

IDIS has been calling for the banning of single-use plastics in Davao City since 2018. Last week, Penalver said that while it welcomed Mayor Sara Duterte’s pronouncement to certify the proposed ordinance banning SUPs as urgent, it expressed its frustrations that the proposed ordinance  “does not reflect the true intent of why we lobby for the banning of single-use plastics – to make the City plastic pollution-free.”

“While we applaud the ordinance that seeks to manage the city’s plastic waste problem, we express our frustration with the proposed ordinance. The ordinance does not reflect the true intent why we lobby for the banning of single-use plastics – to make the city plastic pollution-free,”  he said, adding that other local government units are now banning SUPs and promoting alternatives but Davao City, “which prides itself to have enacted landmark ordinances, is now several steps behind as far as the ordinance is concerned,” Penalver said.

“As a non-government organization, and a watch dog of the government, we are just doing our job. We intend nothing but to provide clarification and improvement in the ordinance. He (Mahipus) has our full support for the ordinance. But we have to be critical as well and we believe there are specific provisions that need to be clarified and improve to really ascertain the intent of the policy,” Peñalver said.

The draft ordinance provides that the special permit to sell SUP products will be issued and/or renewed only after payment of single-use plastic regulation fee of P10,000 while the special permit to distribute and/or use will be issued upon showing of its necessity for lack of commercially alternatives as certified by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office and only upon payment of a. SUP regulation fee of 5 pesos per item.

“IDIS’ position really is to ban the sell/use/distribution of SUPs because that is what we are lobbying and that should be the way to go if the city really wants to address the plastic waste pollution in the city. Hence, providing for a special permit does not address this,” Peñalver added.

The draft measure seeks to ensure the protection of the environment; to regulate the sale, distribution and use of SUPs; to encourage the use of reusable products by discouraging disposable plastic products; to initiate programs geared towards a sustainable utilization of natural resources; to implement waste reduction plans, programs, and practices within the city; to enhance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature; to recognize the principle that “polluters must pay”; and to instill upon the citizenry that a clean and healthy environment everybody’s concern. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

Comments

comments