Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS IN THE PHILIPPINES: POLITICS AS USUAL






Senator Loren Legarda has filed a bill (SB No. 2759) to ban the use of plastic bags in retail stores and supermarkets. Basically, it would expand the coverage of the plastic ban in Muntinlupa, so as to encompass the entire Philippines.

I didn’t realize that my already low opinion of that VWI* could get any lower. She derides “cost-effective” plastic bags, as though such cost-effectiveness did not enable companies to employ more workers and provide better services for customers. Loren takes it for granted that company operations will go on as usual, sans the use of plastic bags. How wrong she is.

As a friend of mine from Muntinlupa pointed out recently, if it weren’t for his family’s circumventing the current ban on plastics, they would not be in a position to maintain their business. And now Loren wants to do this nationwide?!

She frames her bill as ‘environmental,’ and she cites data about how plastics clog drains and are difficult to dispose. This is completely missing the problem, which is not one of plastics per se, but respect and protection of private property. Plastic is not wasteful in itself, just as fire is not harmful in itself.






There are perfectly proper ways to get rid of plastics without corresponding pollution, just as there are perfectly proper ways of disposing of asbestos or PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls); the cost of doing so ought to be considered though, admittedly. Compounding the problem is that government ownership of infrastructure and water resources promotes a disregard for keeping these places clean.






What’s more, plastic bags are reusable. But no, Loren wants to use some other type of bag, namely the less reusable paper. And as the Simon & Garfunkel song goes, “If I only could, I surely would.” Companies, especially the smaller ones, just do not have the money to do as she pleases, nor do they have money to pay the fines she wants to coerce out of them. Why do these goddamn senators always assume the worst of people?

The fact is, paper bags are not necessarily less polluting than plastic bags, as these articles point out:

And what about the effect this will have on logging, and floods? Environmentally friendly, indeed.

In short, this political posturing of Loren, to maintain her ‘environmental activist’ image, is just a lot of bullshit, to quote Penn Jillette. Her phony advocacy as found in her Senate bill to ban plastic bags will only put many jobs at risk, and reduce Filipinos’ productivity, without any benefit to Mother Nature.



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