Ex­panded plas­tics ban splits traders

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY MATTHEW REYSIO-CRUZ

A broader plas­tics ban to be im­ple­mented next year in Que­zon City has be­come a cause for con­cern among some busi­ness­men. Jesse Liv­ingston, a restau­rant owner, said he was both­ered to hear about the ban not from city of­fi­cials but from the me­dia. But Coun­cilor Dorothy De­lar­mente, who in­tro­duced the or­di­nances on the new pol­icy, said the idea came from busi­ness­men them­selves.

City gov’t says it will soon hold a brief­ing on de­tails of or­di­nances

As the Que­zon City gov­ern­ment moves for­ward with a far-reach­ing plan to cut plas­tic waste by pro­hibit­ing sin­gle-use ma­te­ri­als at dine-in es­tab­lish­ments, some busi­ness own­ers said the three­month tran­si­tion pe­riod was un­fea­si­ble and could dev­as­tate cer­tain re­tail­ers.

On Sun­day, Mayor Joy Bel­monte an­nounced two or­di­nances that were signed in Oc­to­ber— City Or­di­nances SP-2868 and Sp-2876—which would im­pose a wider ban on plas­tic bags and all sin­gle-use plas­tic and pa­per ma­te­ri­als for dine-in cus­tomers, re­spec­tively.

The plas­tic bag ban—which also re­moves the op­tion of let­ting shop­pers buy a bag for P2— will be­gin in Jan­uary 2020, while the pro­hi­bi­tion on dis­pos­able ma­te­ri­als will start in Fe­bru­ary.

Jesse Liv­ingston, who coruns a small restau­rant in the city, said he was shocked to find out about the new pol­icy through the me­dia without prior no­tice from city of­fi­cials.

“Busi­ness will suf­fer, which will trickle down to the em­ployee level and into the small com­mu­ni­ties,” he said. “There will be a big push­back from busi­ness on this.”

‘Com­plete cul­tural change’

While Liv­ingston lauded the in­tent of the or­di­nance to re­duce the city’s im­mense plas­tic waste, he said it would ul­ti­mately re­quire a “com­plete cul­tural change” to suc­ceed.

This was a sen­ti­ment shared by Miguel Barnes, owner of a burger shop in Barangay Tan­dang Sora with his wife, Karen. The tran­si­tion to non­s­in­gle-use ma­te­ri­als will be dif­fi­cult be­cause of “the ex­ist­ing men­tal­ity and prac­tices of the so­ci­ety we live in nowa­days,” he said.

“Cus­tomers heav­ily rely on these dis­pos­able or sin­gle-use ma­te­ri­als, not only for the con­ve­nience of trans­port­ing food and not hav­ing to wash dishes, but also for per­sonal food hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion,” he said.

Be­cause the pub­lic had come to ex­pect some of these ma­te­ri­als as part of cus­tomer ser­vice, (those eat­ing at the cou­ple’s burger shop, for ex­am­ple, are pro­vided with grease pa­per, plas­tic gloves and alu­minum foil), tak­ing them away could lead to their over­all brand tak­ing a big hit, Barnes said.

Alex Adiaz, man­ager of a restau­rant on Katipunan Av­enue, also cited the po­ten­tially high cost of tran­si­tion­ing to non­s­in­gle-use items as well as the dura­bil­ity of cer­tain re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als.

“The prob­lem is dura­bil­ity since we have items that have sauce that can leak out,” Adiaz said. “This is why we haven’t fully tran­si­tioned to re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als.”

Con­tacted by the Inquirer, An­drea Vil­laro­man, head of the Que­zon City En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and Waste Man­age­ment Depart­ment, said the lo­cal gov­ern­ment would meet with busi­ness own­ers to “prop­erly brief them on the de­tails” of the or­di­nance “in the next few days.”

Coun­cilor Dorothy De­lar­mente, who in­tro­duced the two or­di­nances, said on Sun­day that two pub­lic hear­ings were held. She said the idea of im­pos­ing a to­tal ban on plas­tic bags came from busi­ness own­ers them­selves, around 300 of which at­tended a com­mit­tee hear­ing.

“It was fully ac­cepted by the busi­ness own­ers [and] re­tail­ers, be­cause the sug­ges­tion came from them,” she said.

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