Top business groups oppose ban on plastic bags

Posted at 08/31/2012 11:26 AM | Updated as of 08/31/2012 2:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Top business groups are opposing a ban on the use of plastic bags now being implemented in several cities in Metro Manila.

Fourteen business groups, including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Philippine Industry and Philippine Exporters Confederation, took out a full-page ad in a leading newspaper to denounce the plastic ban.

"The plastic ban does not protect the environment at all! It leads to more paper use which means more trees cut and higher water and power use. The environment is worse off," the ad stated.

Trash such as plastic bags have been blamed for clogging sewers and causing floods in the metropolis. Several cities such as Quezon City, Pasay City, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Marikina, Las Piñas and Manila have passed measures banning the use of plastic bags. In Quezon City, a P2 plastic recovery system fee will be imposed for each plastic bag starting tomorrow (September 1).

But business groups claimed using paper bags is more harmful to the environment than plastic bags, saying up to 17 trees need to be cut to make 1 ton of paper; and 1 gallon of water is needed to make 1 paper bag.

The groups also noted producing a paper bag uses 200% more energy and generates double the carbon emission than producing a plastic bag.

"With more cut trees and denuded forests, with more water and energy used, more carbon emissions and more trash. The plastic ban actually harms the environment," they said.

A ban on plastic bags will also put the jobs of 200,000 workers of the plastic industry at risk, the business groups warned. Paper imports, on the other hand, are increasing.

Plastic bags are not solely to blame for floods, the group said, citing climate change and improper waste disposal as the culprits.

Instead of a plastic ban, the business groups said enforcing the Waste Segregation law is the solution. "It entails more work but it will make our cities cleaner; our waterways free of all kinds of waste; save forests, water and energy; reduce imports; save jobs; and even create a robust recycling business all over the country," they said.

Since plastic bags are banned, some vendors at wet markets have opted to use newspaper to wrap food products.

The business groups said using recycled paper to wrap food is not safe since the "waste paper used could have come from anywhere including trash."

Other business groups that backed the statement were
Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Pollution Control Association of the Philippines, Samahan ng Pilipinas sa Industriang Kemiko, Association of Petrochemical Manufacturers of the Philippines, Packaging Institute of the Philippines, Polystyrene Packaging Council of the Philippines, Philippine Plastics Industry Association, Metro Plastics Recycling Industries, Philippine Association of Supermarkets, and Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association.