Representative Alexie Tutor of Bohol’s third district has filed a bill at the House of Representatives seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics in all tourist sites across the country and impose stiff penalties for violators to ensure strict enforcement of the measure.
House Bill 4727, or the “Zero Plastics in Tourism Act of 2019,” imposes penalties of up to P150,000 for commercial establishments and P10,000 for groups or individuals who use disposable plastics within tourist destinations including hiking trails, beaches, mountains and other “places tourists go to.”
Tutor filed the bill considering that the global tourism industry has “contributed to the generation of solid waste, more specifically disposable plastics.”
“With this bill, we want all tourists to be aware that they are most welcome but their single-use plastics like water bottles, spoons, forks, straws and stirrers are not,” she said.
Commercial establishments would be urged to use alternatives such as paper products instead.
Local health and environment units would be tasked to develop reports on the availability, cost and performance of recyclable and biodegradable alternatives over single-use plastics.
“I am pushing for an alternative on plastic straws because it takes years for a straw to decompose. That is very apparent in beaches,” she said.
Tutor hopes that the additional demand for alternative packaging products would also spur growth in various industries including the development of eco-bags or “bayongs,” providing livelihood opportunities for women’s organizations.
The measure empowers local government units particularly through their Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB) and Environment and Natural Resources Officer as deputies which would implement the provisions of the act involving commercial establishments operating within a tourist destination.
The Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources meanwhile will be tasked to draw up the implementing rules and guidelines for the single-use plastic ban.
According to Tutor, the strict enforcement of the proposed measure will be promoted through pieces of signage at transport hubs including airports and bus terminals.
The issue on single-use plastics has been tackled recently at various levels of the government amid the increasing number of plastic liter in the country.
In his“First 100 Days” report last month, Governor Art Yap highlighted his administration’s plan to start by next year a gradual ban on the use of single-use plastic containers and bags in Bohol.
Yap said that the initiative will be implemented in “achievable phases.”
Earlier this week, Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to certify as urgent a bill imposing a ban on single-use plastic products in the country to push for the measure’s swift approval in Congress.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Duterte himself during a Cabinet meeting brought up the idea to ban the use of single-use plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change. (RT)