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Industry expects 50% downsizing if Manila bans plastic bags

A ban on the use of plastic bags in Manila will likely prompt the industry to downsize by 50 percent, considering that five other cities in the National Capital Region already have their respective ordinances in place, Crispian Lao, former president of Philippine Plastics Industry Association Inc. (PPIA) said.
The 200-member PPIA aired its concern after the Manila City Council passed on second reading a proposed ordinance banning any form of plastic bag for dry goods. The said legislation would also impose a total ban on polystyrene or Styrofoam products.
If passed, Manila would join the ranks of cities in Metro Manila to ban the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam. Marikina, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Valenzuela, and Las Piñas have a similar ordinance in plance.
In a phone interview, Gloria Buenaventura, Marikina City Environment
Officer told GMA News Online a local legislation regulating the use of plastic bags has been passed by the city council last May.
"We are currently doing an information drive. By November 2012, we're expecting full implementation", Buenaventura said. "We would only allow a specific type of packaging for wet goods," she added.
However, Ahna Mejia, Public Information Officer of Valenzuela, noted they have not approved the ordinance banning plastic bags, saying a proposal prohibiting or banning the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags is pending before Sangguniang Panglungsod.
"We are currently studying the possibility, but we have to take into
consideration Valenzuela have companies manufacturing plastic bags,"
she said.
“Approximately, 500 players (including non-PPIA members), mostly small and medium enterprises will be affected,” Lao said in an interview with GMA News Online. “This is not counting companies whose core business is other than plastic, like bottled water manufacturers with integrated facilities,” he added.
Output off by 20% to 30%
Lao said the plastic industry is barely coping. “We are at a stage where production is down between 20-30 percent,” he said. 
Citing NSO data, he said that demand for domestically sourced HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and PS (Polystyrene), which are used for plastic bags and Styrofoam, respectively, declined by over 25 percent.
“HDPE showed a drop of 29 percent from 153,627 metric tons in 2010 to 108,880 MT in 2011,while PS saw a 26 percent decrease from 28,959MT in 2010 to 21,395M/T in 2011,” Lao said.
“The market had shifted to paper bag and food container substitutes, benefiting foreign suppliers [as] evidenced by a 45 percent increase in paper imports for the same period 2010-2011,” he added.
Impact on jobs  
Lao said the current ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam is already having an impact on jobs. “The175,000 labor force of the plastic bag and Styro sector is directly hit,” he said.
“The demand for contractual workers was significantly reduced and… close to nil… while regular employees now work on a rotation basis,” the industry representative noted.
In addition, Lao said industry workers are now working four to five days a week instead of their regular six-day workweek.
“Sectoral players (mostly small) have stopped or significantly reduced operations and (are) strongly considering closure if the banning trend continues,” Lao said. — VS, GMA News Erratum: Our earlier report cited that the City of  Valenzuela has already passed an ordinance banning plastic bags. Our sincere apology for the misleading information. — GMA News