Flood aftermath: envi group renews call for lawmakers to address plastic pollution

Davao City (MindaNews / 11 April) — A Davao City-based environmental group called on policymakers to come up with stricter regulations to address plastic pollution as various ingle-use plastic (SUP) wastes were on the streets in the aftermath of the flooding here on Saturday evening.

Atty. Mark Peñalver, Executive Director of the Interface Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) on  Sunday said he hopes Saturday’s flash flood would serve as an eye opener for the public and policymakers to adopt more sustainable, resilient, disaster-adaptive development, and environment-responsive policies for the city.

“The flooding last night is heartbreaking and a very unfortunate situation to look at. The aftermath is no different,” Peñalver said in a statement.

Assorted plastic waste left on a narrow street in Barangay 37-D in Davao City on Sunday, 11 April 2021, the morning after the flooding (Photo courtesy of Sustainable Development Movement)

A heavy downpour Saturday night inundated several low-lying areas in the city, including downtown Davao.

He added that seeing a lot of waste carried by the flood, many of them plastic, was problematic,  as these contributed to the flooding situation here.

He said it also showed how much plastic wastes are being generated and the failure of the city and the community to effectively manage them.

“With the current policy environment, the policy makers should come up with a stricter policy that would address plastic pollution. But let us not also forget to make those who produce these plastic wastes accountable and responsible. They are as guilty for the effects brought about by their unsustainable practices,” he said.

The City Council of Davao passed last March 2 an ordinance regulating the sale, distribution, and use of SUPs such as “drinking cups, ice cream cups, condiments or gravy containers, cup lids, stirrers, cutleries, straws, meal boxes, pastry or cake boxes, egg containers or clamshells, balloon sticks, and hand gloves.”

One year after the effectivity of the ordinance, the selling of the SUPs will not be allowed without a “special permit to sell” issued by the City Mayor’s Office, and upon showing that there are no commercially available alternatives.

However, Peñalver said the ordinance does not prohibit the usage, distribution, and selling of sando bags, labo bags, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

“The ordinance may not be what we expected it to be, nonetheless, this is a step closer to addressing the plastic wastes issue in the City. We just hope that this ordinance will stir behavioral and attitude change to Dabawenyos and, also, for the business sectors to also do their part in impacting that change,” he said.

The heavy rain last night inundated several low-lying areas in the city, including downtown Davao.

As of 5 p.m., Alfredo Baluran, head of  the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDDRMO), has yet to respond to queries as to the extent of damage caused by the flooding and how many families were displaced. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)