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Pasay plastics ban lets stores charge extra for paper bags

The ban on the use of plastic bags in all stores in Pasay City will be implemented gradually, officials said on Tuesday in a message addressed to businessmen who are still making the adjustment.

The one-year grace period before the ban takes effect ends this September.

City Ordinance No. 4647, which was introduced by Vice Mayor Marlon Pesebre and approved on September 12 last year, bars all stores including supermarkets and wet markets from using “noncompostable plastic carryout bags.”

The measure, however, allows business owners to pass on the cost of recyclable paper and reusable bags to customers.

“Any store … must charge the customer a reasonable amount for each recyclable paper and reusable bag provided,” it said.

Violators of the ordinance will be issued a warning for the first offense, and will be fined P1,000 for the second offense and P3,000 for the third. For the fourth violation, the stores face closure or the cancellation of their business permits.

Pasay Mayor Tony Calixto said the city government would give business owners ample time to prepare for the full implementation of the ordinance.

“(It) will be gradually implemented to be able to educate the owners of the business establishments who will be affected. We will conduct more information campaigns to get the support of the people as we implement the use of biodegradable paper bags or reusable shopping bags,” Calixto said in a statement.

Pasay City joins other local government units in Metro Manila in banning the use of plastic bags. Similar measures have been passed in Muntinlupa, Pasig, Marikina, Las Piñas, Manila, and Quezon City.

“I am encouraging all the owners and operators of various stores and establishments, including all our kababayans (countrymen) to faithfully comply with this ordinance,” the mayor added.

The mayor said the ordinance was made more timely by the massive floods that recently hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces, which were partly caused by plastic bags in the garbage clogging the waterways and drainage systems.

City administrator Dennis Acorda said the city council would still be revisiting certain provisions of the ordinance to reflect the best practices in other cities.

He said the ordinance, for example, did not state how much would be the “reasonable amount” charged from customers for reusable bags. “Do we impose a ceiling? We have to look into that,” Acorda added.

The ordinance also “did not make a distinction” between primary and secondary packaging for wet goods, he noted.

Teams from the city’s solid waste management office will make the rounds starting next week to check on the stores’ compliance with the ordinance, Acorda said.

“Warnings will only be like ‘soft reminders’ for now,” he said, noting that many business establishments are still asking for more time to make the switch.

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