March 31, 2023

The Benguet Provincial Board has given a favorable review to ordinance of Atok, Benguet regulating the use of plastic bag, polystyrene or Styrofoam, and other synthetic packaging materials in the municipality.

The ordinance instead encourages the use of biodegradable packaging materials.

“The local government unit encourages the use of biodegradable as uncontrolled use of polystyrene (plastic bags and Styrofoam) leads to environmental degradation, causes illness in the long run, and when indiscriminately disposed of, causes clogging to canals or waterways resulting in flooding and contributors to the volume of non-biodegradable material,” the ordinance read.

The ordinance covers all business establishments within the municipality including ambulant vendors.

Vendors are prohibited from selling, providing, and using non-biodegradable materials as packaging materials for dry goods, as containers for food, as secondary packaging on dry and wet goods, or as primary packaging material on dry goods.

Exempted from the ordinance are whole sellers of vegetables on the grounds of sanitation but they are encouraged to use biodegradable and reusable alternative bagging products and containers.

The use of clear plastic bag starting from 15” x 22” at 0.01 microns for nine kilos of carrots, potato, among others up to 22” x 38” at 0.05 microns for 20 kilos of cabbage, lettuce, etc.; red sacks that are 25” x 34” synthetic material for 50 kilos carrots and potato; and Styrofoam as containers for packaging of flowers is also exempted from the coverage of the ordinance.

The ordinance does not cover the primary packaging of products, which forms part of the actual product since acceptable alternative packaging is not yet commercially available such as frozen foods, cooking oil, and juice drinks, among other things.

Plastics used for packing fish or wet goods directly purchased from wet markets are considered secondary packaging must be biodegradable or oxo biodegradable.  

All business establishments are required to use packing materials such as paper or cloth bags, buri or bayong, non-plastic sack or bags, sturdy reusable shopping bags, biodegradable plastic, or other biodegradable containers.

Shops dealing with wet goods shall use plastic bags with no handle, holes, or strings only as secondary packing materials for hygienic purposes. Primary packaging sources like bayong, eco bags and other reusable containers are hereby encouraged.

All establishments shall provide reusable carry out bags that can be purchased by the consumer for a minimum fee.

A task force will be created to implement the ordinance.

All business establishments are given six months from effectivity of the ordinance to dispose of their remaining non-biodegradable packaging materials.

Violators will be fined P1,000 on first offense; P2,000 on second; and P2,500 on third offense. – Ofelia C. Empian