December 5, 2022

Market vendors, section representatives, and members of the Plastic and Styrofoam Task Force met on Oct. 28 at the public market to discuss salient points in the proposed amendments on the city’s plastic ordinance.

The city implements Ordinance 35, s. 2017 or “Regulating the sale, distribution and use of plastic carry/shopping bags and styrofoam in the City of Baguio and providing penalties for violations thereof.”

However, there have been proposed amendments to the ordinance, which have been referred to the city council’s committee on health, sanitation, ecology, and environmental protection chaired by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda.

During the meeting, the task force noted comments, recommendations, and suggestions from the market representatives, which will be considered in the proposed amendments.

The task force, which was reconstituted through Executive Order 156, s. 2020, is composed of the City Environment and Parks Management Officer as chair and the General Services Officer as vice chair; with members/representatives from the Permits and Licensing Division, Public Order and Safety Division, Special Services Division, Public Information Office, City Treasurers Office, City Market Division,  Wastewater, Water and Ambient Air Management Division, General Services Office, Baguio City Police Office, Department of Education, and concerned punong barangay.

The market sector representatives were updated on the proposed amendments, which is on first reading.

The ordinance shall be known as The Plastic Carry/Shopping Bags and Styrofoam Free Baguio Ordinance and will cover all business establishments, government offices, and public and private schools.   

Reusable bags shall include cloth, woven (bayong), rattan baskets, recycled waste paper bags, and other biodegradable bags from plant materials. Manufacturers or distributors in the production of reusable bags shall comply with material requirements. 

No business shall provide and sell any plastic bag as secondary packaging materials on wet goods or as primary packaging material of dry goods for goods or items purchased or for food or drink.

Reusable bags as carryout bags for secondary packaging may be sold, while restaurants and hotels are prohibited from distributing single use plastic/disposable materials and Styrofoam to customers/clients who are dining in.  Over-packaging or multiple wraps for goods shall be prohibited to reduce waste generated.

Businesses shall provide or make available to customers for free or for a cost, paper/reusable bags as carry-out bags. Plastic labo bags may be used as primary container for wet goods; and could be used for two or more wet goods, if safe and no contamination will occur. Other wet goods not pre-contained are preferably in customer-supplied “reusable” hard plastic containers. Customers can bring and use reusable bags for takeaway goods, except plastic bags prohibited in the ordinance.

Business people who may provide bags labeled “oxo-biodegradable” with the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) registration number issued by the Department of Science and Technology shall secure a clearance from the Plastic Carry/Shopping Bags and Styrofoam Free Baguio Task Force or the Monitoring and Oversight Committee.

The task force provides a list of manufacturers with ETV for biodegrable plastics to business establishments through the concerned punong barangay for posting, dissemination, and inspection as a basis for the renewal of business permit.             

The monitoring and oversight committee is composed of the city mayor as chair, city council committee on health and sanitation, ecology and environmental protection as vice chair. The City Environment and Parks Management Officer is tasked as action officer; and the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, punong Barangays, City Health Services Officer, Public Order and Safety Division, and the Baguio City Police Office.  

All city government offices and public and private schools shall maintain a “no plastic bag no styrofoam,” policy in their offices or school premises, including government-sponsored events and functions.

All businesses and public and private schools in the city shall post in conspicuous places within their premises a signage “Bawal ang paggamit ng plastic bags at Styrofoam,” or words or phrases to that effect.

Customers must bring reusable or recyclable bags when buying items from businesses.   

Violators may be meted out penalties and/or community service, closure of business, suspension and/or non-renewal of business permit. A certificate of completion shall be issued after the community service, with monitoring by the Anti-plastic/Styrofoam task force. 

The proposed exemptions shall be the subject of thorough study and discussions.   

The plastic and Styrofoam task force has monitored establishments selling plastics, conducted information and education campaign on plastics and Styrofoam in the barangays and in the market.

Michelle Agbuya, OIC of the City Mayor’s Office Special Services Division, said they have integrated IEC on plastics and styrofoam during conducted barangay assemblies and distributed printed materials regarding the matter. – Julie G. Fianza