Plastic banderitas ‘extremely wasteful’

trash
TRASH. After events like the Feast of the Black Nazarene, trash, plastic in particular, litter the streets. File photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler
After fiestas and when cleanups begin, plastic bags used as banderitas make garbage disposal harder and more expensive

MANILA, Philippines (Jan. 24, 2016) — Fiestas do not end when people go home. After the parades and the parties, trash still have to be cleared.

Plastic bags are often used as banderitas (buntings) to decorate the streets. While the small colorful flags are nice to look at, they present a problem when cleanups start.

For the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog group, these bags spell trouble.

The group asks Filipinos to stop using banderitas, saying the bags are “extremely wasteful.”

In San Andres in the city of Manila, they have expressed concern at the use of plastic bags as decorations for the Feast Day of the Holy Family on Sunday, January 24.

“It seems to be getting out of control as we can see in San Andres, Manila with many neighborhood streets festooned with plastic bag banderitas that will surely end up as garbage,” said EcoWaste Coalition Coordinator Aileen Lucero.

According to the group, the bags contribute to the cost of garbage disposal. Manila’s waste disposal cost the city P512.564 million (or $11.397 million) in 2013, making it second to Quezon City’s P994.590 million ($22.115 million).

During the Black Nazarene procession, a trail of trash was left in the wake of the event. After the Traslacion, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said there were 30 truckloads of garbage.

“We also hope that Manila will take action against wasteful plastic banderitas and ban them at once,” Lucero added.

EcoWaste Coalition asked the Manila City government to strictly enforce City Ordinance 8282, which bans the use of plastics for dry goods and regulates its use for wet goods.

Plastic, elections

The group is also concerned that pollution will only worsen come campaign season since candidates frequently use tarpaulins for publicity.

According to Lucero, the banderitas “compete” with the politicians’ signs “for space and attention.” She added, “It’s plastic all over.”

Even before the campaign season, EcoWaste Coalition already observed tarpaulins from officials around Manila.

“This battle will continue to rage as politicians take advantage of all imaginable occasions from Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Lent, Easter, to school graduation rites to publicize their names and faces among voters,” Lucero said.

One of the issues with using tarpaulins is their being non-biodegradable and toxic. Two of the substances that EcoWaste Coalition found were cadmium and lead. The group detected cadmium up to 1,279 parts per million (ppm) in all samples and lead up to 1,704 ppm in 25% of the samples.

EcoWaste Coalition urged candidates to follow the guidelines of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which include using biodegradable and environmentally-friendly materials.

The Comelec has also proposed adding the text “this material should be recycled” on campaign materials.


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