Philippines Capital Extends Plastic Bags Ban

Philippines Capital Extends Plastic Bags Ban

Plastic shopping bags and food containers have been banned in Manila's financial district as part of escalating attempts to reduce deadly floods.

The ban was introduced in Makati, home to many of the country's most expensive shopping outlets and around 2,900 restaurants, after a widespread publicity campaign.

Food can be wrapped in plastic but shops and restaurants are not allowed to issue plastic bags. Styrofoam food containers and plastic cups have also been banned.

Environment protection officers in Makati will hand out fines of 5,000 pesos (£75) to shops and supermarkets which break the law.

Customers are given the option of using paper alternatives or not using a bag, with supermarkets encouraging people to bring their own.

Sonia Mendoza, coordinator of the anti-plastic group Eco-Waste Coalition said that the ban did not go far enough as consumers can still use biodegradable bags.

"They still litter and they do not really biodegrade. They just become small pieces but they are still made of plastic," she said.

The worst floods to hit the capital occurred in 2009. Typhoon Ketsana left 80% of the city submerged in floodwater and killed 400 people.

Although Makati's official population is just over 600,000, city officials say it rises to 3.7 million during the daytime as hundreds of thousands of workers commute to the city.

Makati is the ninth out of 17 districts within the Philipines' capital Manila to implement the ban. Just over half the city's 13 million population are now covered by the restrictions.

Plastic waste is widely blamed for contributing to flooding in the country and cutting down on it is essential to prevent the city's waterways from getting clogged, said Prexy Macana, project officer of Makati's environmental services department.

"During our bi-monthly wastewater clean-ups, we found most of the garbage is plastics," he said.

June is the start of the rainy season in the Philippines. There has already been flooding but as yet no loss of life.