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Editorial | Defined responsibilities

There is a proposal before the city council to ban single-use plastic products similar to proposals and ordinances in other local government units and other countries.

Under the proposal, plastic products that should be banned are drinking cups, condiment containers, cup lids and covers, stirrers, cutlery, straws, meal packaging, hand gloves and materials used as buntings and balloons.

However, under the same proposed ordinance, use of sachets, which are all plastic, is not included in because of the perception that this will become offensive to the poor as this sector of the society is dependent on buying products like shampoo in small quantities.

Of course, the poor buy products in small quantities because that is what they can afford, not because they are used to buying these in big quantities. Also, there has been no proposal to look into whether the banning of plastic products, not just those that are mentioned, can be totally done.

In laws such as this proposal, the responsibilities must not only fall on the consumers, they be poor or otherwise, but also on companies that make these products. So what must be done, if the idea is to completely eliminate the use of plastic products, is to compel both the companies to make sure that they adhere to the idea, or law if it gets passed, and for consumers to commit to practicing it.

The law must also ensure that no additional cost is passed on to consumers, as companies can use this as scapegoat in raising the cost of their products; and that alternatives must be offered so that plastics be completely eliminated.

There might even be quantifiable benefits not only to the companies, but to the consumers as well.

But to be able to attain success on this campaign, there must also be a no-nonsense drive to educate the consumers on its impact as this will motivate them to join it even without the penalty clause in the law.

After all, most often than not, laws are followed dependent on how these are communicated to the society.

The great political philosopher Thomas Hobbes once said: “The law is a public conscience.” Therefore, laws must be crafted by ensuring that all rungs of society carry responsibilities for their implementation.

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