Sen. Legarda Proposed Total Ban on Plastic Bags Nationwide

Thin plastic shopping bagsImage via Wikipedia
Senator Loren Legarda has proposed a total ban on the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags throughout the country with the objective of curbing pollution and helping the nation manage its ecological resources more wisely.

Legarda cited studies that revealed the unrelenting and neglectful use of plastic bags around the world.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, about 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Meanwhile, the 2005 World Wildlife Fund Report showed that nearly 200 different marine species die due to ingestion and choking from plastic bags.

"Plastic bags end up as litter as it makes its way to landfills, drainages and bodies of water, taking decades to decompose and damaging marine life when dumped in the sea. This issue of pollution is further aggravated by natural hazards, which have become unpredictable due to climate change," said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.

"For instance, Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 clearly showed that plastic bags severely worsened the flooding in Metro Manila and made post-cleanup very difficult," she added.

To prevent the problem from worsening, Legarda filed Senate Bill 2759, the Total Plastic Bag Ban Act of 2011, which prohibits groceries, supermarkets, public markets, restaurants, fast food chains, department stores, retail stores and other similar establishments from using non-biodegradable plastic bags.

The proposed penalty for violators include: a fine of P10,000 for the first offense; P50,000 for the second offense; and, P200,000 as well as one year suspension of business permit for the third offense.

"As the problems of pollution, environmental degradation and severe weather shifts escalate, all sectors of society must act with dispatch. Individuals must make conscious efforts to change our daily routine and practices to produce a positive impact on our environment. Companies must change their economic mindset, wasteful production processes and packaging methods--from the use of seemingly cost-effective plastic bags into investing in long-term reusable and recyclable bags which are more sustainable in the long run," Legarda concluded.