Plastic products have been blamed for the flash floods in Metro Manila during the rainy season, but it seems that the message has been slow to sink in. Image Credit: AFP

Manila: Some 49 monitoring teams found erring establishments that did not comply on the first day of the ban of the use of all non-biodegradable packaging materials in Makati City, the financial district, sources said, adding that Makati is participating in a national campaign against the use of plastic which has been blamed for excessive flash floods during the rainy season.

“Many erring establishments received tickets on the first day of compliance test,” said Danny Villas, Makati City’s environment officer.

Members of the monitoring team, composed of four per team, plied Makati City’s high and low-end canteens, convenience stores, department stores, eateries, fast food chains, public markets, shopping malls, and supermarkets to check on their compliance to the city’s Plastic Regulation Order which bans the use of plastic and polystyrene as packaging materials, said Villas, adding the order also bans the use, sale and distribution of non-biodegradable products.

Resistance came from sidewalk vendors including customers in supermarkets who were not prepared for the local ordinance’s implementation, said Villas.

“We made sure that our monitoring teams are fully prepared to recognise violations of the ban during their inspection (of establishments) and to take appropriate action in accordance with the provisions of the executive order and Makati City’s Solid Waste Management Code,” said Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, adding that members of the monitoring team who belong to Makati City’s department of environmental services were all briefed on Tuesday on guidelines in the distribution and issuance of apprehension tickets to erring establishments,

According to the ordinance, individual violators are fined P1,000 (Dh83.33) or imprisoned for five to 30 days, or both; establishments are fined P5,000 (Dh 416.66), the company owner imprisoned from 30 days to a year, and the company’s business permit cancelled.

The local code also calls on establishments to provide for free or for a fee, paper bags, cloth bags, and baskets made of biodegradable materials in lieu of plastic bags.

Establishments and village halls are also required to place a marked “plastic bag recovery bin” at their premises’ entrances and exits. They will serve as drop-off points for the collection of plastic bags from residents.

Last December, Mayor Binay issued an executive order that extended to June 20 the deadline of a city code that gave establishments since 2003 a nine-year grace period to comply with the use of environment-friendly packaging materials. The extension was to give establishments time to consume their inventories of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, said Binay.

Makati City has a population of half a million, which soars to 3.7 million with the number of workers in banks, companies, embassies, shopping malls, and restaurants based in the financial district.

Makati is the ninth of Metro Manila’s 17 districts that has issued the plastic ban, raising to seven million the number of people affected by it. Metro Manila has a population of 13 million.

Authorities have blamed plastic products for flashfloods in Metro Manila, during the rainy season which begins in June. Some 20 typhoons hit the Philippines annually.

In 2009, Tropical Storm Ketsana claimed 400 lives and submerged 80 per cent of Metro Manila.