Press Release
August 10, 2007


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago today urged retail stores all over the country to implement a massive plastic bag recycling program.

Santiago 's bill, Senate Bill No. 1443 or the "Plastic Bag Recycling Act," was filed today.

According to the senator, the amount of plastic bags dumped as garbage every year has become a global environmental problem.

"Every year, four to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide, with billions of bags ending ups as litter," she said. "Almost all these bags are non-biodegradable. Non-biodegradable plastic bags take from 500 to 1,000 years to disintegrate."

"These plastic bags contaminate soil and waterways, and enter the food web when animals accidentally ingest them," Santiago said. "The plastic bags that end up in the ocean have been documented to harm at least 267 marine species. They are especially lethal to sea turtles."

"During the rainy seasons, these plastic bags clog drainage systems, causing floods," Santiago explained.

Santiago 's bill mandates stores which have gross sales of over P100,000 each month to establish an "in-store" recycling program for the plastic bags they provide consumers.

"The bill will cover department stores, boutiques, supermarkets, big groceries, and drugstores, all of which provide consumers with plastic bags to store or transport goods at the point of sale," Santiago said.

The bill requires that the plastic bags provided by stores to their customers be emblazoned with the following words: "Please return to a participating store for recycling."

Stores will be required to place a plastic bag collection bin in their premises. The bin must be visible, easily accessible to consumers, and clearly marked that it is available for the purpose of collecting and recycling plastic bags.

Further, stores are mandated to recycle all the plastic bags they collect. They are also required to keep records describing how they collect, transport, and recycle the plastic bags. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government concerned are empowered to examine these records to determine compliance by the stores.

The bill proposes stiff penalties to stores that violate its provisions. A fine of P100,000 for the first violation, P200,000 for the second violation, and P300,000 for the third and subsequent violations shall be imposed on retail stores that do not comply with the Act.

"The stores can sell reusable bags to their consumers to replace single-use plastic bags or paper bags," the senator said. "After all, the purpose of my bill is to encourage the use of reusable bags and to significantly reduce, if not totally eliminate, the consumption of single-use plastic bags."

"Plastic bags have only been around for 50 years. In the United States , department stores started using plastic bags only in the late 1970s and grocery chains in the early 1980s," she said. "The harm they have caused the environment in these 50 years has been incalculable,"

"I call on environmental groups to support my bill. Lobby your favorite senator or congressperson to pass this bill into law," Santiago said.

"Retail stores, especially the big department stores, will be demonstrating corporate responsibility by supporting my bill," she said.


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