Davao ban on the non-biodegradable plastics!

Starting at the end of June this year, Davao implemented a ban on using non-biodegradable plastic bags. All stores are now being watched if they are using the said plastics. Most department stores/malls have days that they would use paper bags. SM mall they do during Wednesday, the Abreeza during Friday. My only concerns on the SM paper bags it is so thin that even if they double it, it is still not good. If using paper bags, they have to do something first before using that. I don’t think its worth using. Why not use the biodegradable instead of the thin paper bags. Not worth it though for me.

Davao City
Davao City

We also go to the public market, particularly Bankerohan. We do our shopping for our produce and fish there. We heard from the market stall vendors that they are not too happy with the biodegradable plastic. They said it cost them a lot to buy one plastic. Before, if you buy fish or meat from the vendors, they would double the plastic. Now they would not do it, they said the biodegradable is more expensive. They don’t like it too that the new plastic now would decompose if it stays too long especially under the hot weather.

Pollution from Plastic Bags
Pollution from Plastic Bags

Good thing that it will decompose since people here just throwing it all over the place. Seeing the plastics thrown on the side of the road really makes you angry. The paid sweepers of the city can’t keep up with it. I remember when we used to live in Marfori. Early morning I saw those city people sweeping the pavement early in the morning, after the busy hour on the street that area where they were sweeping you can already see plastics, cigarette butts and other stuff on the ground. Just not a good thing to see. Luckily those sweepers came sweeping the area a few times a day. I wished people here were disciplined at the early age of throwing their garbage at the proper place. Davao sometimes has those laws that you don’t just throw your garbage anywhere. But people know how to manipulate the system and they know where to throw and when.

They are also banning the usage of polystyrene foam. After the ban, one night we want to order some food from one of the restaurants just near our house. So I called up the restaurant and I placed my order. When I told them that its TO GO, they would not take my order then, because they said they don’t have containers for take out. So I asked the cashier if I will bring my own container there would they take my order then? They said absolutely. So I order my food and just brought my own container there. It worked out good then. It could be  a pain in the neck but hey it’s  good for the environment. We will try to help out what we can for the sake of good health.

Have to follow the rules here. I guess offenders will pay a fine and maybe attend some community service. If you commit  a lot of times they will put you to jail. You don’t want to be in jail here for sure.

If you are living in other part of the Philippines, is it also strictly biodegradable plastic in your area? Let us know so that people that reads here know already if they ever visit your place.

Stay safe. Cheers!

Post Author: Feyma (349 Posts)

Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.

CurvePress Suite of WordPress Services


  1. says

    What a great idea! It’s so sad to see garbage everywhere. I wish that stores, for example, in the SM or a pharmacy, would get away from the practice of bagging small items and stapling the bag shut with the receipt on the outside. It’s annoying for me, and I can’t even re-use those small bags. However garbage is only a symptom of a much bigger problem – overpopulation.

  2. says

    Hi Stacey – I know what you mean. It’s really an eye sore seeing lots of garbage. Hey, only in the Philippines… Ha ha ha… It annoys me too the way they bag it. I complained that once and they said that they were told to that to avoid people putting something in it and not paying. In short to avoid shoplifters. Really can you really shop lift? Look at how many saleslady following you when shopping and they also had security guards.

    Tell me about it, Philippines is getting to be over crowded now.

    Thank you for the nice comment and stopping by here. Have a great one!

    • says

      Yes, could you really shop lift from a Pharmacy where you have to ask for everything (no matter how embarrassing) from the lady behind the counter. You couldn’t steal if you tried!

  3. RandyL says

    My asawa collects those plastic bags. She recycles them as trash can bags, then throws them out full of other trash. At least they make it to the landfill that way. This is something an entire nation has caught on to – using the “Walmart” plastic bag as a substitute for “Glad” bags. However convenient this may sound, still an estimated eighty-six percent of ocean debris is plastic, and almost 80 percent of the plastic in the ocean comes from land sources. Our rivers, lakes and shorelines are teeming with plastic. Most major stores all recycle plastic bags (if they are returned to the store), and many grocery stores offer small rebates — less than 10 cents — for bringing your own bags. Check out this unconventional recycling method: crocheting them into 6-foot-by-3-foot sleeping mats for the needy.

    • says

      HI RandyL – We used the plastic bags similar way your wife did. Problem here most people just throw their garbage all over the place. As you can see here garbage all over the place. Lots of garbage bin all through out the city but people still throw their garbage on the ground. We are told to recycle, but still people don’t listened to what they are told. I don’t even want to see the side of the ocean here, I’m sure lots of garbage on the side of it. SM is giving points if you bring their SM green bag when you shop.

      Thank you so much for giving us the link.

      Good to see you again here. Have a good weekend ahead!

  4. says

    The problem is not the bag,it is the litter bug,every morning I listen to the constant sweeping of dirt into the gutters here,then they wonder why the place floods when it rains.If the people here took half the pride they have supporting the PAGAN game of boxing and put it in their enviroment then there MIGHT be seen a change!!

    • RandyL says

      Kevin you are right and one must be eliminated. Let’s keep the bags and eliminate all humans. Oh wait, that’s probably not a good idea…I guess the ban on plastic bags will be a much better option. It’s the bags Kevin!

    • says

      HI Kevin – I hear your frustrations. Really I wish to God that people here were taught at the early age where to throw their garbage. Just look at the other countries here in Asia. Lots of places are really clean. I really wonder why we can’t do the effort of making our place clean, even just half an effort as them.

      Thank you for your comment. Good to see you here.

      Have a great day!

  5. Don says

    I try to take a cloth bag as its usually only a few days worth of groceries. My wife complains that I dont bring back the plastic bags, not sure why as we have a bin full of them.

    • says

      Hi Don – Yep, make that cloth bag handy all the time. Me and my nieces have cloth bags in our purse all the time in case we go shopping at the grocery store. We earn points too by using that bag.

      Have fun shopping. :-)

      Nice to see you here. Have a wonderful day!

  6. roselyn says

    Hi Feyma: Excellent article. My deceased parents in Cebu used their own containers when they called to order out for food. My mother also used woven heavy duty shopping bags which were washed and rinsed after useage. She used big plastic containers when shopping for fish and meat. Two maids carried these into the market or the stores when my mother shopped. They picked up thrown garbage in front of their property as well. Garbage disposal is definitely a problem in the Philippines. My parents were mindful of their ways as the garbage problem bothered them quite a bit after having lived in the U.S. for over 25 years.

    • says

      HI roselyn – I think the old way was better when shopping. My mom also uses similar bags that your mom was using. They still have that kind of bags right now. I was thinking of buying that bag. I was telling my nieces last week that we are going to start using that kind bag when shopping at the public market. Also the old days they used woven basket to shop at the market.

      Some people just don’t care here if they had plenty of plastic garbage outside there property. We have same thinking with your parents. We don’t want garbage thrown all over our yard and outside our gate too. Just not good to see. Really I wish to God that people here have training at the early age in life on how to handle garbage properly.

      Good to see you again here Roselyn. Have a good weekend ahead!

  7. John Heitz says

    The plastic ban is good and should be expanded all over the world. Us as a society do not know how to dispose of our garbage in the right way. So if we can not dispose of these item properly than we should loose the right to use these items. When I dive in the ocean you can not believe how much plastic you see. I feel that even the biodegradable plastic should be prohibited. Even with the shorter life span they can cause harm to the environment. Let’s go back to bayong bags and net bags and bring our own reuseable containers to put food and produce in. Use it properly or loose it.

    • says

      HI John Heitz – I know what you mean. I am happy that we are starting on going on the right track here. I am just hoping that it will continue on. I think Davao City was trying to be better on the environment. I think people just have the discipline to follow through it.

      I agree we should use the bayong bags again. Maybe start using the woven basket again too. I remember my parents used that before. I’ve seen baskets for sale on the roadside going to Buda. Lots of the native people still making them.

      Thank you for the comment. Have a good day!

  8. Jeff R. says

    There is debate in some U.S. cities about banning of plastic bags. I have some concern about this because in these cases they want you to bring your own reusable cloth bags. This is a rally bad idea because the cloth retains bacteria. Paper bags are a bad alternative for exactly the reason you stated. Paper bags tear when wet. SM paper bags are still considerably worse. I do have a suggestion for the trash problem you brought up. I have never been to Davao but I have been to other parts of the Philippines, particularly Cebu and Manila. From what I can see the biggest reason there is such a trash problem is because there is no place to properly dispose of trash. Go to any mall any buy a drink. Good luck trying to find a place to dispose of the cup. I have yet to find a store that has a trash receptacle near the door. There are security guards but no place to dispose of trash, bags with a receipt, that the store gives you. Getting rid of plastic bags will not solve the trash problem. Keep the plastic bags and give people a place to properly dispose of trash. These are my thoughts. Thank you for a good article.

    • RandyL says

      Plastic bags have been totally banned in the state of Hawaii. I think Los Angeles has something in the works for a ban on plastic. Others cities will follow eventually.

    • says

      Hi Jeff R. – I can see your point. But really the cloth bags can be wash anyway. After each use try to wash it. Buy multiple of it.

      I can say though that Davao has lots of trash bins all over the city. People were just to lazy to lift the lid and throw their trash there. All malls here had trash cans. Just on top of my head counting I think SM Davao has 10 or more trash cans inside not including outside. So no reasons for people to just throw garbage on the floor or ground.

      Nice thoughts, thank you so much.

      Have a great weekend!

  9. Frank Fealey says

    Here in South Africa we had a real prolem with plastic bags they were every where and refered to as the national flower. About 5years ago the government
    intervined and forewith if you take plastic bags at the shops you have to pay for them.
    That must have reduced the plastic bag litter problem by 90%. When you are paying at the cashier in the supermarket everyone brings their own plastic bag
    to have their shopping packed in.
    In Phil litter is a major problem and it is all to do with education.
    Phill has some beautifull beaches but most are filthy and look like a disorganized
    rubbish dump.Not very appealing if you are trying to attract tourists.
    Regards to Sir Robert.

    • says

      Hi Frank Fealey – Hey, good to hear from you again. How are you and family?

      I can imagined the look there. Just like the way here. Hmm, got your idea, yeah what if they would let the people pay here. They might not litter the plastic too. They might save that. Just like the cloth bags. Here at the supermarket you have to pay for the cloth bags. People do take care of it and reuse it over and over.

      I hear you, no tourist will be attracted with the rubbish all over the place.

      It’s really good to see you here again. You take care and have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Jim Hannah says

    I wonder if there’s a way to start a “clean up our city campaign”…maybe something that would catch on slowly and “go viral”. Every journey starts with a single step…maybe a school could start it…kids tend to be a lot more vocal and passionate about such things. I once heard it said that it takes “two weeks to make a habit, and two weeks to break a habit” and I found that it’s true. Whenever I find that I want to stop doing something, I just try to raise it in my consciousness somehow for two weeks, and after that, it’s automatic, or habitual. Same thing if I want to develop a new (good) habit…it really does take about two weeks to “program” your brain. I don’t do facebook, but maybe someone could start a facebook page that called clean Davao or something??????

    Nice to hear about an impetus to stop using the bad plastic certainly Feyma, there’s really no reason for the biodegradable stuff to be any weaker or more expensive.

    • says

      Hi Jim Hannah – Good idea. I like that. Hmm, Something to talk about with the school meeting.

      Thank you for the good thoughts. I really appreciate your comments.

      Have a pleasant day!

  11. corjo says

    I was in the Irish Republic a year or so ago.There they charge fifty euro cents for each bag you use at checkout.It seems to work as you dont see much plastic blowing about the place, they do not provide paper bags as its also seen as a waste of resourses.so you have to bring your own cloth shopping bags. In the U.K. most shopping centres have a bag for life scheme,you buy the first heavy plastic shopping bags but then when they break you just exchange for a new one.
    In my local grocery in Phils they package your shopping in cardboard cartons.
    I would support a Davao style ban but I think it should go much further and ban all plastic bags,even the biodegradable ones hang about the enviorment causing a danger to wildlife and an eyesore for too long

    • says

      Hi corjo – I think letting people pay really made the difference. People then tried to be careful on using the stuff then. Just like the cloth bags, you have to buy the bags and can be use over and over again.

      Not sure if they will ever ban all the plastics all together. I doubt it though. Hopefully though in the long run.

      Tell me about it, plastic all over the place? Really is an eyesore.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. Have a good day and a good weekend!

  12. says

    Hi Feyma – The answer is simple take your own bag when you go shopping then no need for plastic bio-degradable or otherwise, thats what we do.

  13. David S. says

    There are two simple solutions to this problem. The first would be to implement a recycling program that paid people to turn in used bags similar to payments for aluminum cans. In a country with high unemployment and low wages it wouldn’t take much of an incentive.

    The second would be to bring your own reusable bags with you when you go shopping. Clearly this wouldn’t solve the problem as completely as the first solution but it might make you feel better about doing your part to help the environment.

    • says

      Hi David S. – All of what you mentioned was already told by the people here. We have been told to recycle, people do it in a few weeks but do not continue on. We save our cans here at the house. We have kids that come by to get it. We want them to get it to buy food for their family.

      We are using reusable bags (cloth bags) when shopping groceries. It’s really convenient and good for the environment.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Highly appreciated.


  14. marjorie says

    Hi Feyma. Here in the uk we are encouraged to use our own shopping bags. Thats what was used before plastic.

    • says

      Hi marjorie – That’s what we are using now too or buy at the counter of the supermarket. Really it’s nice and more cleaner for the environment.

      Enjoy your summer there. Have a good weekend! Take care!

  15. ScottF says

    In Michigan we have a few different things that are done to reduce trash on the roads. First, we do have a lot of receptacles for trash to be thrown into on the streets and around businesses. Second, some stores charge for each bag you use, so you are encouraged to bring your own. The bags they sell are VERY strong and can be used repeatedly after you purchase them once. The typical plastic bags at most stores are very thin, and tear easily, so you don’t get many uses from them. When we do get them, we use them as trash bags for our small receptacles in the CR’s, office, etc. So, it’s easy to empty out by a simple change of a used bag. Those, though, end up in a trash dump. I’m not abig fan of cloth bags, and I’ll tell you why. Meat. It’s a simple word, but it’s one that can cause the spreading of disease. I don’t mind washing out a plastic bag and letting it dry, but washing and then waiting for a cloth bag to dry is a bit much. Plus, once I feel the bag has outlived it’s usefulness it’s a lot easier and cheaper to throw out a heavy duty plastic bag than it is a cloth one that I paid $1USD for. Especially since they are quite small and don’t hold much. The heavy duty bags are available for just 10 cents(5 pesos) and I have had them for over two years now.

    I also like the link provided by RandyL about using them for mats for homeless. With the ingenuity of the Filipinos, I’m surprised nobody has done this already and turned it into a HUGE profitable business. If they’re all over the streets, free product, just use some time each day to make them and sell them. I’m sure the Filipinos can get one done in a day!! Look at the basket makers!!!

    Anyway, the problems out there are many in regards to trash. It’s here in the U.S. too. The first step, as Feyma has said, is the education of our children not to throw trash out on the ground. I see people throw even a cigarette butt out of their car at a red light, and I want to jump out, pick it up from the ground and toss it back into their car! Litter is something that drives me crazy. WHY!? I pickup trash from my yard a lot because I live on a main road in/out of my small village now. Beer cans, bottles, and other trash.

    It doesn’t take much for a community to take back it’s streets. It takes one person, leading by example. And then it takes one more person seeing that and making the same effort. Also, we have community groups that “adopt” a section of road and keep it clean. It’s about taking pride in your neighborhood, and doing what needs to be done to make a change.

    • says

      Hi ScottF – I understand what you mean. The bags that we have here are not as good as what you have there I think. But I told my nieces to buy plenty of bags and will have our helpers wash them after we used it. It works out good for us. Yes those biodegradable plastic we uses it too for our small trash can in each bathrooms in the house.

      Our kids were trained at a young age to throw their garbage in a trash can. If going somewhere and they’re eating candies and can’t find trash can, put it in their pocket and throw the garbage when they get home. My nieces and nephews when they visit us we told them to throw their garbage in the garbage can not just all over the yard. I think it work though.

      Thank you for the good comment. Highly appreciated. Have a good day!


      • ScottF says

        I too also throw trash from chewing gum, etc. into my pocket if no trash can is available. It’s a simple thing really. It’s all about education of the children.

    • RandyL says

      Scott, have you ever seen the cloth bags with the rubber liner inset? These would be good for the wet market and much easier to keep clean.

  16. says

    plastices are going out in a big way here in tassie too ok it is coming down to it if u need one u will have too pay for it and that is about 15 to 20 cent a bag lol mate ok

  17. David Richards says

    The ban on plastics can and will be inconvenient in the early stages. It has been instituted here in Lipa City and of course there are some teething pains. I remember my youth in the UK, merchants had their own way of wrapping wet goods, certainly could get a bit soggy after a while, but it worked and we got things home. I’m sure there was a time in the Philippines when it was exactly the same (before plastics existed as an every day item) so it’s simply a matter of reinventing the wheel for the long term good of the county and the environment. Re-educating oneself (rather than grumbling) is the key.

    • RandyL says

      I can remember butchers would wrap meats in waxed paper then wrap again with white butcher’s wrap with string so it was easy to carry. Later on the Butcher’s paper was waxed on the inside.

    • says

      Hi David Richards – It’s not an easy process for sure. But we are hanging in there, trying to follow the rules. We will get the hang of it sooner than expected. I think we are going into the right direction, just have to learn and adjust.

      Have a good weekend!

  18. Bob New York says

    I grew up with paper bags, and that is all that was available then. Many of the supermarket chains here offer the consumer their choice of ” Paper or Plastic ” and some even offer paper ” and ” plastic with the large paper bag slipped into a plastic bag.

    The first time I remember experienced all plastic, all the time, was on my visits to the UK in the early 1990’s. As I was not driving a car there myself and was doing a lot of walking I realized carrying those plastic bags by the handles in one hand for too long my fingers were starting to go numb from probably cutting off circulation.

    I would guess that plastic bags are less costly for the store and thats why they took over and replaced traditional paper.

    Prior to the plastic bag revolution, another plastic item that I think continues to contribute to the ” Plastic Problem ” are Blister Packs. In recent years to hold bigger and heavier objects and in other situations to make a rugged and more appealing product presentation the plastic has become so thick and heavy you need a knife, scissors or other kind of tool just to open the blister pack. I think an additional reason for these oversized blister packs is for better shop lifting prevention otherwise known to merchants as ” Inventory Shrinkage “.

    The world survived and progressed just fine before the advent of plastic bags, one way no deposit no return beverage containers, blister packs etc. If we return to those days in todays enviornment however I think it will cost us more at the point of purchase. On the other hand maybe we are paying for it in the cost of paying to have litter picked up as well as non-litter disposable items taken to a central disposal location.

    • says

      Hi Bob New York – Yes it used to be a choice of paper or plastic when I was in the States. Here its the choice between the plastic bags or boxes for heavy stuff like pop and other grocery items. I hear you about carrying those plastic bags and feeling the numbness on you fingers. Been experiencing that here. No choice but to have the plastic here before. I hate the paper bags here.

      Honestly, I wonder whatever be the reactions of the youngsters now if we will go back to the old ways. Like going to the market instead of plastic bags for the items bought, try to use woven basket or like those net bags or bags made out of those sack for rice. They might not like it because it’s not so trendy or in style.

      Will see what will happen here if people really would follow. I am hoping though.

      Thank you for the heads up and good comment. Highly appreciated. Have a great day!

  19. Stevo says

    Hi Feyma, Nice article. I thank you for writing this. It is not just Philippines that has a litter problem. We were a playground with our kids here in Illinois, and a bunch of I’d say middle school kids were hanging out there too. Anyway, they had bought treats at the nearby ice cream store and throwing their cups, napkins, lids, etc. on the ground! There were a bunch of elderly people there and they were very mad, but you can’t say anything. Just then, our 2 year old son, Bubba, started going around picking up the litter! Needless to say, we were very proud! The old folks looked very happy, also. As far as the teenagers, not so much! So I would say that it has to be taught to young people to save the world, one piece of trash at a time……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>