I seldom go to SM supermarkets even if one is only a three-minute walk from my house. The other day, I did because I was in a hurry to buy something. At the checkout, the bagger immediately put my purchases in a plastic bag. I asked if the bag is free. The cashier told me she already punched the P2 cost of one plastic bag in my bill. I told her why didn’t she ask me first because I have my own eco bag. She simply called for help and somebody helped her delete the entry from my bill.
In my book, this is stealing or taking my money without my knowledge. And this is a blatant violation of Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-2140 or the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance.
I stayed for a while and observed several counters and I noticed the same thing. Cashiers did not ask anymore if the customers want a plastic bag or not. They simply charged it to the bill of the customer. Do the math. Say, there are a million customers a day and an average of three bags per customer. At P2 per bag, that will be P6 million on a daily basis. Who benefits from this? The Quezon City government? SM supermarket? How many SM supermarkets are there in Quezon City? How many supermarkets are there in Quezon City? The clear loser is the customer. Surely, this is not the purpose of that ordinance.
That is why if I can help it, I don’t shop at SM stores. Although they are allowed by the ordinance to charge an amount for the plastic bag, the ordinance also states, “It must be stressed that the imposition of the P2 fee is not to generate funds but to change consumer’s mindless consumption of plastic bags to a lifestyle anchored on the 3Rs of Waste Management: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” Using plastic bags and automatically charging the customer does not serve the purpose of customer education.
Ordinance No. SP2140 also states, “On the recovery and recycling mechanism of the ordinance, EPWMD [Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department of Quezon City] will provide a list of relevant recyclers and waste markets to all stores that will buy used plastic bags to ensure that there will be enough venues where plastic bags and other recyclable materials may be redeemed.” I have not seen this list at all at SM Sta. Mesa. This practice of automatic use of plastic bag and charging for them is clearly contrary to the spirit of the ordinance and an obvious violation.
Speaking of plastic, let us avoid plastic as much as we could. Environmentalist Johan Tell writes: “To be sure, plastic is the only choice for many uses. It’s light, strong, flexible, waterproof and inexpensive. But many plastics are associated with chemical pollution, both in manufacturing and in final disposal. PVC [polyvinyl chloride]plastics are among the worst offenders, because they usually contain softeners [called phthalates]which have been shown to cause cancer, disrupt hormone function, and affect the liver and reproductive organs. PVC products are marked with a triangle and the number 3. They’re found in a wide range of products and packaging materials.”
“Plastics are manufactured mainly from petroleum and natural gas, and that means they contribute to the greenhouse effect,” he said.
“Where possible, buy environmentally sound goods made from glass, leather, wood, cotton or wool. They feel nicer, last longer and age better,” Tell added.
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