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Council okays plastic-free baguio ordinance

An ordinance regulating the sale, distribution and use of plastic bags and styrofoam in the city has been approved on third reading at the city council.

Dubbed as “The Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio Ordinance,” Ordinance No. 35 series of 2017 will cover all business activities and establishments in the city including city government schools and offices.

The measure prohibits business establishments from providing any customer any plastic bag or polystyrene foam container for goods or items purchased or serving food or drink, take out or dine in to customers in polystyrene containers or in plastic bags.

Instead, these establishments will be mandated “to provide or make available to customers for free or for a cost, paper bags or reusable bags or containers made of paper or materials which are biodegradable, for the purpose of carrying out goods or other items from the point of sale.”

The measure however will not prohibit customers from using bags of any other type that they bring to the store themselves for carrying away goods in lieu of bags provided by the store, except, plastic bags which are prohibited by this ordinance.

All businesses will be required to post a signage that shall read: “Bawal ang Paggamit ng Plastic Bags at Styrofoam.”

These establishments however will be given a year to fully comply with the ordinance.

As part of its provisions, the measure mandates all city government schools and offices to maintain a “No Plastic Bag No Styrofoam” policy in their office or school premises including in government-sponsored events and functions.

Councilors Elaine Sembrano and Mylen Yaranon who proposed the measure last year said the new ordinance is an upgrade of Ordinance No. 26 series of 2007 or the Baguio City Paper Bag Ordinance which mandates the use of paper bags, buri bags and other biodegradable containers in all supermarkets, groceries and other retail business establishments in the city.

“The use of plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers constitute a percentage of litter which is unsightly, costly and can cause serious negative environmental impact and the cost associated with the use of these materials create burden to the city’s solid waste management system,” the measure noted.

“It is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents that this regulation include the imposition of penalty to discourage the use of plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers also known as styrofoam, reduce the cost of solid waste disposal by the city, protect the environment and recover the cost in promoting the use of recyclable paper bags and reusable bags in the City of Baguio.”

To take the lead in the information-education-communication IEC campaign and the monitoring of the implementation of the ordinance, a technical working group will be created to be chaired by the mayor with the city council committee health head as vice chair and the city environment and parks management officer as action officer.

Penalties for violation are: Reprimand or immediate closure for establishments without business permit for first offense; P1,000 fine for second offense; P3,000 fine and eight hours community service for third offense and P5,000 fine and suspension of business permit for six months for fourth offense.

Penalties for violation of any of the provision by heads of the city government offices, school administrators, principals and concerned persons in authority will be subject to Republic Act No. 6713 and other local orders and issuances.

The measure also provides awards and recognition for those who will sustain compliance.

The measure is co-authored by Councilors Faustino Olowan, Vice-Mayor Edison Bilog, Leandro Yangot Jr., Edgar Avila, Joel Alangsab, Elmer Datuin, Peter Fianza, Lilia Fariňas, Arthur Allad-iw, Benny Bomogao and Michael Lawana. – Aileen P. Refuerzo