Plastic free in Calamba City- will others follow suit?

Laguna, with 26 municipalities and 4 cities and over 2,473,530 in population from the year 2009 Statistics, one city stands tall with 54 barangays and made history by implementing an ordinance number 10-481. This ordinance prohibits the use of plastic bags on dry goods and regulating its utilization of wet goods and prohibiting the use of Styrofoam in the city of Calamba and prescribing penalties.

Calamba City Councilors Luis Vergel G. Baroro authored the ordinance with Jose Morel C. Manaig as co- authored. The approval happened last August 16, 2010 at the session hall of the new city hall building at Barangay Real, City of Calamba at 10:54 in the morning.
From the ordinance it stated the following:

“A resolution approving City ordinance no. 10-481, series of 2010.
WHEREAS, Article II, Sec 16 of the Philippine Constitution provides that the state shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balance and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature;

WHEREAS, Sec 3(i) of RA 7160 provides that Local Government Units shall share with the national government the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their territorial jurisdiction;

WHERAS, sec 447 (vi) of RA 7160 also empowers the Sanggunian Panglunsod to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment including such activities which results in pollution and acceleration of rivers and lakes or ecological imbalance;

WHEREAS, plastic bags and Styrofoam are rampantly used as packaging materials and utensils in the City of Calamba and elsewhere;

WHEREAS, plastic bags and Styrofoam, being non- biodegradable materials, clog our canals, creeks, rivers and other waterways and during rainy season end up in Laguna de Bay, causing harm to the waterways and the surrounding communities;

WHEREAS, despite serious efforts of the city government to segregate compostable, recyclable, and reusable waste materials, plastic and other similar materials, remain in the waste stream and eventually become residuals;
WHERAS, the city government is spending a considerable amount of money for operational and maintenance expenses on waste disposal;

WHERAS, the City of Calamba, in it’s desire to reduce if not totally eliminate the use of plastic film bags and Styrofoam as packaging materials, encourages the utilization of alternative pachaging materials such as woven bags (bayobg), baskets, cloth bags (katsa), paper bags and other similar materials (e.g banana leaves, taro leaves, etc)

WHERAS, there is a need to regulate the use of plastic bags to prevent potential serious ecological imbalance particularly in the city waterways.”

The ordinance is the first in the history of all cities in Laguna, cities like Sta. Rosa, Binan and San Pablo. According to the incumbent Vice Governor of Laguna Cesar Perez, when he implemented the same ordinance in Los Baños when he was still the mayor, he initiated forums to show the benefits and advantages of using paper bags instead of plastics. Three months mind conditioning is the key he said, Los Baños only has 14 barangays but unlike other municipalities surrounding Los Baños which was declared as an “Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences Community” on 17 March 1982 by virtue of Executive Order No. 784 (Section 23) and was declared as a “Special Science and Nature City of the Philippines” through Presidential Proclamation No. 349 in recognition as a center for science and technology in the development of agriculture and preservation of the environment, this town, famous for Mount Makiling implemented the plastic free community and still pushing by the incumbent Mayor Anthony “Ton” Genuino.

With the newly established SM City in Calamba, The Press Relation Officer stated that on June 1, 2011 which is also the date where the total implementation will take, they will follow the mandated city ordinance and already sent memos to their tenants last March 28, 2011. SM department store has their own reusable bags and promoting it with the help of the Department of Environmental and natural Resources.

Every Wednesday even without the ordinance, all SM department stores is using paper bags and promoting the use of the reusable bags to their consumers. For those tenants or shops who will not provide paper bags will be sanctioned by the city according to its rules.

Most of Calambeño are not aware yet about the city ordinance, they are asking for a proper dissemination from their own barangay. With more than 360,000 in population, the city is an overgrowing community because of the technical parks, hot spring water and low cost of living with the cost of lot per square meter varies from 3,000 pesos to 12,000 pesos.

The newly approved ordinance is visible around the city with distributed signage and the CENRO’s phone number which is (049) 5456789 for the comments and suggestions.