By Nikky Necessario

The Iligan City council approved the ordinance on banning plastic last April 1st, thanks to Ms. Marija Kara Echavez-Trinidad, a woman who aggressively reached out to the local government units (LGUs) to address this environmental issue.

Echavez-Trinidad is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman with a degree in BA in Comparative Literature and is a third-year Law student at the Mindanao State University – Iligan Campus.

The signed ordinance would be implemented six months after it was approved. Here are some of the policies and regulations stated under the approved ordinance: (1) Styrofoam and all single use plastics are banned, which includes cellophane bags, plastic straws, plastic cutleries, plastic utensils, plastic cups, etc.; (2) this applies to both dry and wet goods; (3) manufactured products packed in plastic would be regulated and would require clearance from the LGU; (4)  penalties for establishments and individuals who would disobey the ordinance; and (5) allocation of funds for innovations and discoveries that would lead to plastic alternatives and the creation of recycled products from non-biodegradable wastes.

Ms. Echavez-Trinidad believes that the role of the government is essential because it would make the implementation easier rather than moving individually. Funds would also be provided which would make the movement more broad and productive. Her friend, Jessica Labaja, helped her polish the ordinance and the councilor in-charge of the committee on environment and waste management made the passing of the ordinance 

Echavez-Trinidad encourages the youth by giving talks and highlighting everything that is needed to be done to address some environmental problems that we face today. She also said that it gives the best feeling knowing that everyone can make a difference. As per her direct words, “We actually can really contribute to making the world a better place despite all the challenges. We just really need to keep the passion alive.”

Aside from the then passed ordinance on plastic ban in Iligan City, Ms. Echavez-Trinidad is currently drafting two (2) other ordinances pushing for a city-wide zero-waste movement. The drafts are about Anti-Littering and the other one is a localized version of Republic Act (RA) 9003, which is about providing an ecological solid waste management program.