AS ANTI-PLASTIC LAW TAKES EFFECT: Ecobags flourish in Albay malls
By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY — Colorful eco-friendly bags are now displayed for sale while some are given free by supermarkets, groceries ,and other commercial establishment after the ban on the use of plastic bags took effect and went on full throttle this month in the entire province of Albay.
The reusable colored bags are noticeably seen at the cashier’s booth and other display centers in big malls around the 15 towns and three cities of Albay.
Two of the SM chain of Save More express mart operating in this city launched a marketing strategy that supports the province’s Anti-plastic Ordinance.
Save More initiated a campaign dubbed as Join the “M.O.B” (My Own Bag), an eco-friendly campaign that discourages the use of plastic as packaging material while promoting the use of bags made of paper, cloth, and other materials that are reusable.
The campaign was conceptualized by SM marketing people designed to offer alternative packaging materials in place of plastic, Styrofoam, and other synthetic materials.
The campaign started April 25, this year, as it offers customers an array of colorful bags at prices ranging from P10.00 to P25.00 depending on their sizes.
The “Green Bag” as they call it comes in various colors with attractive art work.
It also offers the customers additional points (2 to 3 points) in their respective reward cards or rebate in goods bought provided the customers bring along the reusable green bag.
At the Metro Gaisano supermarket and mall, the same marketing gimmick is also being employed by selling colored bags with different designs and art work with slogans “I love earth,” “Save the environment.”
The Gaisano ecobags come in different colors and sold at P25.00 each.
The Liberty Commercial Center (LCC) mall in downtown Legazpi owned by a local Filipino-Chinese businessman here with a number of express marts operating in many towns in Bicol also launched the “Buy Me Now” bags at P30.00 apiece.
When interviewed, majority of shoppers said they are supporting the anti-plastic bag campaign although they suggested that the so-called eco-bags should be better given for free depending on the amount of actual purchase made.
Merlita Tariman, a creative writer, said, “it is certainly good that supermarkets are promoting the use of ecobags. We must also promote the use of karagumoy baskets as alternative for plastic shopping bags. Karagumoy is indigenous to Albay. We produce banig, kararaw, takba, bayong out of this material. Albay ought to promote karagumoy products.”
Beverly Baranda, a retired government employee, said, “the eco bags are costly and the sizes are not realistic. Stores must provide these bags to shoppers free of charge, say for a minimum purchase of P100.”
Rollie Rosal, city councilor said, “I strongly support the campaign but mas maganda kung free or they give rebates to shoppers that bring along their own shopping bags.”
Talie Buenagua, call center employee, said it is a good initiative on the part of business establishment as this will encourage consumers to support the anti-plastic campaign.
Pilita Lucena, housewife said “the bag can be used every time we go shopping or buying groceries, but the bag should be given for free because we are promoting the establishment.”
Amber Mirandilla, said it’s okay as long as it should be durable and can carry heavy loads like bottles.
Joy Tango said, “I support the campaign on the use of alternative packaging materials though some ecobags are expensive, but paper bags are perishable.”
Noime Bron noted that the bags are attractive and colorful and jibe with the province’s slogan, “It’s more fun in Albay”
Connie Destura, student, said the design and colors attract shoppers and its use at the same time helps in the campaign against the use of plastics.
Jeda Briones, student, quipped, “ang cute naman ng bags puede gamitin sa school.”
The Anti-plastic ordinance which took effect this month, prohibits supermarkets, groceries and other commercial establishments from using plastic bags, styrofoams and other synthetic fabrics as packaging materials.
Provincial Board Member Arnold Embestro who authored the anti-plastic ordinance as chair of the Sanggunian Committee on Environment said the ban on plastic use took effect only this month of June after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan gave a one year moratorium to commercial establishments in the 15 towns and three cities of the province.
Ordinance No. 2011-3 was passed by the Sanggunian and approved by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda on February 21, 2011.
Albay becomes the first province in Bicol to pass an anti-plastic ordinance.
Embestro said they are urging shoppers and marketgoers to use or bring along with them bags made of recyclable or biodegradable materials such as paper, cloth, abaca, buri, and other environment friendly materials.
The ordinance carries a penalty of a fine ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 including the cancellation of the business permit for violators.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the adoption of an anti-plastic ordinance came on the heels of flooding that hit the city and the towns of Polangui, Oas, and Libon which are considered as the flood plains of the province.
He said the flooding problem may be attributed to the proliferation of plastic materials that clog river channels, canals, drainage system, and other waterways.
Environmentalists claim that the use of plastic bags and other synthetic materials, though they are one of the modern conveniences, are responsible for causing pollution and harmful effects to the environment.