July 19, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong reiterated his appeal for establishments, residents and visitors to seriously heed Ordinance 35 s. 2017 (Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio) after a recent finding that the prevalence of microplastics have drastically increased in Asia and other parts of the world.

The mayor cited an article published in the Environmental Science and Technology website which warned that microplastics or plastic particles smaller than five millimeters, are now a growing environmental and public health issue, detected pervasively in freshwater and marine environments, ingested by organisms, and then enter the human body.

The report stated that microplastics are emerging environmental pollutants that can spread to air, water and soil systems, infiltrate the ecosystem and contaminate food sources.

It said that in Asian, African and American countries, airborne and dietary MP uptake increased over six-fold from 1990 to 2018.

Governments in developing and industrialized countries are advised to incentivize the removal of free plastic debris from freshwater and saltwater environments through advanced water treatment and effective solid waste management practices.

Earlier this year, the mayor ordered the heightened enforcement of the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Ordinance in all local establishments followed days later by its strict implementation at the city market.

“There is an urgency to strictly enforce the regulation on the distribution, sale and use of plastic carry or shopping bags and Styrofoam containers in the city because the continuous usage of these single-use plastic and Styrofoam as packaging and food vessels continues to become a health and environment hazard. Let us all cooperate to reduce plastic pollution,” he said.

The ordinance 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 and will cover all business activities and establishments in the city including city government schools and offices. 

Businesses will be required to post a signage: “Bawal ang paggamit ng plastic bags at Styrofoam”, and that all city government schools and offices should maintain a “No plastic bag, no Styrofoam” policy in their office or school premises including in government-sponsored events and functions. 

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

Penalties for violation of any of the provisions by heads of the city government offices, school administrators, principals and concerned persons in authority will be subject to Republic Act 6713 and other local orders and issuances. – Gaby Keith and Aileen Refuerzo