Worried about a possible repeat of Typhoon Ondoy’s torrential rains that submerged eight of Muntinlupa’s barangays in September 2009, Muntinlupa City’s government initiated a study to determine factors that contributed to the intensity of Typhoon Ondoy’s impact on Muntinlupa’s infrastructure and general populace. The study noted that a large volume of plastic garbage clogging the city’s waterways played a big part in preventing the flow of water, and exacerbated flooding. This prompted the LGU to push for the passage of Ordinance No. 10-109 prohibiting the use of plastic bags on dry goods, regulating its use on wet goods and prohibiting the use of styrofoam in the city.
Enacted on January 18, 2010, the law also known as Bring-Your-Own- Bag/Bayong (BYOB) ordinance, gave a one-year moratorium for business establishments and private individuals to comply with the ban. During this period, a comprehensive IEC campaign was conducted for the benefit of all stakeholders of the City. Activities included fora with business owners, orientations in schools and villages, distribution of flyers, installation of billboards and posters, publication of information on the LGU’s newsletter, as well as postings on the City’s website. Strict enforcement of the ordinance commenced on January 18, 2011.
Ordinance 10-109 only covers plastic bags (LDPE) and styrofoam/styrophor because these are very difficult and costly to recycle. Moreover, it takes a long time for the said materials to decompose, which is why minimizing their presence in the waste stream would do much good for the environment as well.
Environmental enforcers from Muntinlupa’s Environmental Sanitation Center (ESC) regularly conduct inspection of establishments throughout the city. Those found violating the ordinance are issued an Environmental Violation Receipt and, depending on the frequency of the offense, are imposed with fines ranging from PhP500 for the 1st offense to PhP2,500 for the 3rd offense. After the 3rd offense, the ESC endorses closure of the establishment to the Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO). The latter then serves the closure order to the recipient and cancels the latter’s license to operate for a period of one year.
Parallel to the strict enforcement of the prohibition of the sale and commercial use of plastic bags and styrofoam/styrophor packaging is the promotion of alternative packaging materials that are sustainable. All sectors that generate plastic trash—business establishments, offices, homes, schools, churches and other institutions—are enjoined to utilize reusable bags made of ecofriendly, recyclable materials to carry goods and other items.
In the first few months of implementation after the moratorium, enforcers penalized over three hundred violators. Several establishments— including a McDonald’s, KFC, and Bread Talk branch—were even ordered closed after incurring three offenses. As several months passed though, the number of violations dwindled considerably. From January to December 2011, only 631 of the 12,978 registered businesses were penalized, bringing the rate of compliance for the pilot year of implementation to 95%. In addition, a survey by the local government has shown that this compliance has translated to an estimated reduction of as much as 15 tons of plastic materials being disposed per day.
The greatest positive impact of the BYOB program can be seen in how people in Muntinlupa have adjusted their lifestyles and habits in complying with the prohibition. Now they either bring their own reusable bags or purchase them. In some instances wherein the goods are placed in plastic, the buyers themselves reprimand the store staff or owner, refusing to accept the use of the prohibited material.
The city’s plastic ban has been lauded by agencies like the DENR and the DILG. Likewise, it has earned the support of environmental groups such as Mother Earth and EcoWaste Coalition for showing that such a program is practicable and can be successful. The MMDA has even encouraged the rest of Metro Manila to emulate Muntinlupa’s example, even as Ordinance 10-109 continues to be looked at as a model legislation for LGUs in the country.