LEGAZPI CITY, April 30 (PNA) -– Outmoded for a long time, the native “bayong” (hand-woven basket) is reclaiming its popularity and has gone back to local markets as the provincial government of Albay rolls on the implementation of an ordinance banning the use of plastic bags and other environmentally offensive materials as wrappers and packaging materials.
The ban will actually take effect in June but this early, shoppers in malls, public markets and department stores in most parts of the province have already shifted to the traditional “bayong”, a kind of bag made of indigenous materials like “buri”, anahaw, abaca, “karagumoy” or rattan.
Eco-bags or non-disposable shopping bags made of paper and cloth are also emerging as alternatives for the old-fashioned basket.
“We are impressed by the acceptability and support being expressed by the shopping public to the ordinance,” Albay Governor Joey Salceda said during the launch over the weekend of Provincial Ordinance No. 2011-3 that marked the start of the 30-day countdown for the phase out of the banned materials from local commercial establishments.
“We can now observe many shoppers in the city and other commercial centers in the province carrying with them “bayongs” and other types of native baskets which is a very impressive development for us who have been insisting and doing all we can to make Albay an environmental champion,” he added.
The ordinance directs all grocery, department and sari-sari stores, supermarkets, chain retailers and even sidewalk and street vendors in the 15 towns and three cities of the province not to use plastic, styrofoam and synthetic materials as packaging or bags for goods sold to their customers.
It explains that such materials are considered non-biodegrable as it can only decompose after about 400 years. They end up as litters bringing bad effects to the environment when wittingly or unwittingly dumped into waterways, river channels, parks, beaches, streets, canals and esteros to cause clogging then floods.
Once burned, he said these materials infuse toxic fumes into the atmosphere contributing heavily to the depletion of the ozone layer and global warming, it added.
The passing of the ordinance and its implementation in the interest of public health and safety, Salceda said, makes Albay the first province in Bicol to regulate the use of non-environment-friendly wrappers and packaging materials in the market.
The province, he said has been championing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction management so that regulating public the use of these materials would contribute significantly to the government’s campaign towards environmental conservation.
“We appeal to all Albayanos, to our visitors, shoppers from different parts of Bicol and transient traders coming in for cooperation. We also have met with owners and operators of leading commercial establishments in the province to discuss with them the salient features of the ordinance so that it is clearly explained and understood,” he said.
The ban is directly addressed to commercial establishments but public cooperation and support are very important for it to be effectively carried, the governor stressed.
Establishments that will be caught violating will be penalized with fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 while cancellation of business permits could also be an additional penalty.
Municipal and barangay officials have also been oriented on its provisions so that they take part in its implementation in their respective areas of jurisdictions.
The ordinance was enacted way back in 2011 but its implementation was deferred for one year due to the moratorium given by the province to business establishments.
In the launch, Salceda announced that the provincial government had officially lifted the moratorium and the countdown period until June 1 would give the public and commercial establishments ample time to adjust into the use of recyclable materials such as bags and baskets made of paper, cloth, abaca, buri and rattan or other environment-friendly wrappers like banana and anahaw leaves.
“We are grateful to the provincial government of Albay especially to our governor for this ordinance that relived our industry,” Victoria Nuñez, owner of a native basket weaving establishment based in the nearby Daraga town said. (PNA) DCT/LAM/LQ/DOC/cbd