The City of Puerto Princesa has finally set into motion an important ordinance that bans, even partially at this time, the utilization of single use plastics.

Starting April this year when Ordinance 993 takes effect, commercial establishments are no longer allowed to use certain plastic products including the ubiquitous “sando bags”. Also covered by the ban are plastic cups, straws and the like.

The policy is an evolving trend in local governance throughout the country, as even Malacañang has announced intentions to issue a blanket executive order on the matter. In Palawan, the municipalities of El Nido and Coron were among the first LGUs to adopt the policy.

At least one report attributed to the non-profit Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives estimates that there are 48 million plastic bags consumed by Filipinos every day, and around 16 billion smaller plastic items including sachets and similar product packaging.

All of these end up in mountains of non biodegradable garbage and a lot find their way into the sea where they are ingested by turtles, marine mammals and other important sea creatures.

Palawan, with its burgeoning tourism sector, should be considered an important stakeholder in this matter because of the significance of its environment. Its fisheries sector is a major source for the country, and the province itself is a globally important protected area.

The city’s business sector is a willing participant in the implementation of the plastics ordinance, as it is important for establishments to find ways to embrace and adopt the policy as the new normal on doing business.

Once successful, we hope to see the city of Puerto Princesa taking bolder policies to not simply reduce plastics pollution in its environment but more importantly to incorporate it in a robust solid waste management practice.