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Our ban on single-use plastics – from Boracay to the world

 

THE local government of Malay, Aklan, which includes Boracay Island, has issued an ordinance banning the use of single-use disposable plas­tic items by hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other establishments. It was the local government’s contribution to the six-month rehabilitation program for Boracay which is due to receive tourists once again this October.

Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Roy Cimatu said the ban will help ease the garbage problem in Boracay which had been or­dered closed by President Duterte due to its growing pollution problem. The President had said then that the surrounding waters had become a “cesspool,” largely because too many establishments had no proper sew­age treatment facilities.

The plastics have not exactly contributed to the pollution of the waters the way untreated sewage does, but they have been a key part of the systematic destruction of the environment, piling up year after year in the depths of the sea, destroying sea life.

Research studies have found that discarded plastics around the world have ended up in its seas and oceans. Some get ingested by fish and other sea life, many of which, in turn, get eaten by humans, who then suffer from the non-biodegradable bits of plastic that end up in their system.

A recent report said eight million tons of plastic pollution – shopping bags, bottles, food wrappers, abandoned toys, radio and TV sets – end up in the world’s oceans each year, from 192 coastal countries, including the Philippines. A worldwide campaign has been launched to discourage the dumping of plastics, beginning with the most commonly used stirrers and soft drinks straws used in restaurants around the world.

The municipal ordinance enacted by Malay, Aklan, banning single-use plastics is a beginning for our country. We hope other towns and cities in the country will enact similar ordinances.

It is significant that our ban on single-use plastics begins in Boracay, our top tourist attraction. Next month, October, when Boracay will once more be opened to the world’s tourists, they will see the plastics ban at work and may help in spreading the idea in their own countries around the world.

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