December 1, 2023

Baguio entrepreneurs met last week with city executives led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong and non-government/ecological-based organizations to discuss schemes, incentives or discounts for buyers who use their own shopping bags in business establishments.

The discussion focused on how to radically reduce or altogether eliminate single-use plastics (SUP) as packaging materials for goods in groceries or for take-out in restaurants and food outlets.

They agreed there should be a shift to organic or reusable packaging materials. Signages should be posted on areas reminding customers to bring their own containers for goods to decrease plastic use and disposal in land and waterways.

Plastics, basically made up of fossil-based chemicals or polyethylence terepthalate (PET), are meant to be used once and disposed in a matter of minutes.

The mayor expressed concern on such predicament as plastic use adds to wastage and deplete nature of fossil fuels.

Eliminating SUPs helps mitigate global warming and counters climate change, the greatest reward from not using plastics, Magalong said.

In the recent green expo, SUPs/wrappers could be exchanged for a grocery item. This practice was requested to be sustained between business administrators and managers.

Maria Victoria Tenefrancia of the Zero Waste Baguio, Inc. noted big groceries in the city were requested by City Environment and Parks Management Office Assistant Head Marivic Empizo if they could possibly grant a one percent discount for customers who bring their own grocery bags/containers.

Tax incentives for groceries that encourage customer’s use of personal containers and eliminating SUPs were also proposed during the meeting. Customers who bring their own bags or containers may also be granted accumulated points, which could be redeemed for grocery items, Tenefrancia said.

Grocery owners could initiate a survey on customers who bring shopping bags and encourage other customers to do the same to generate data on the increase of number of customers showing concern for the environment.

A contest on strong messaging regarding SUPs elimination may also be conducted with prizes from the business group and sponsors.

Refilling stations with dispensers were proposed, with customers providing personal containers.

A directive is awaited from the mayor that City Hall is a model in eliminating SUPs.

Groceries were also encouraged to present their ideas and concerns through direct messaging to concerned offices in the government sector. – Julie G. Fianza