July 16, 2024

The ban on the single-use plastic and Styrofoam needs to be strictly enforced, if Baguio City and other local government units in the Cordillera are serious in managing their solid wastes and lessen the impact of garbage crisis in the localities.
Of late, the city government of Baguio reiterated its call for residents and tourists alike to strictly adhere to Ordinance 35-17, or the “Plastic and Styrofoam-free Baguio”.
It has been seven years since the ordinance was passed, but the use of plastic and Styrofoam continues in the various business establishments, which ends up piling as trash in landfills.
The capital town of La Trinidad in Benguet has also its own ordinance against single-use of plastic and Styrofoam, which was fully implemented in 2018.
When it was first enforced, the public was quick to catch on to the ordinance, with many not failing to bring their own eco-bag whenever they buy.
Some establishments have also followed the ordinance by using paper bags instead of plastic to contain the customer’s purchase, or offer eco-bags with a fee.
But overtime, the practice, especially among the public, was not sustained and the LGUs found themselves back to square one.
According to Oceana Philippines, the Philippines is among the five countries that produce half of the world’s plastic waste. The group said Filipinos produce 163 million sachets and three million diapers a day, as well as drink bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, drink lids, straws, and stirrers.
The Environmental Science and Technology report as cited by Mayor Benjamin Magalong has warned that microplastics or plastic particles smaller than five millimeters, are now a growing environmental and a major public health issue. Microplastics are detected pervasively in freshwater and marine environments, ingested by organisms, and then enter the human body.
Baguio, which produces 400 tons of trash daily, has since been accepting proposals for waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies to solve its garbage woes, but none of these proposals was implemented.
The latest one would be the WTE power plant to be built in Sablan, Benguet and has been projected to serve the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay area, which might be ready by 2027 or 2028.
But while these technologies are yet to come to fruition, the strict enforcement of the ordinance and other existing laws on solid waste management should be implemented.
Further, part of the enforcement of the ordinances is the information and education campaign, as to why there is a need to enforce these policies and other related laws.
It is important to instill in young and old minds, through sustained IEC, the need to preserve and protect the environment even with the simple act of proper garbage disposal.
We call on not only the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, but also concerned agencies such as the Department of Education to help in the IEC on plastic and Styrofoam use.
We laud civil society organizations such as Zero Waste Baguio in organizing events such as the “Declutter with a purpose” event on June 30 at Session Road.
The event dubbed as “Declutter with purpose: empowering communities through household item exchange/donations” encourages the public to share, trade, and repurpose household items.
The items, in good and re-usable condition, include furniture, toys, jewelry, appliances, and other household items which can be exchanged or donated to charitable causes.
As the country celebrates Environment Month this June, it comes as a reality that garbage woes are here to stay with the population boom.
The enforcement of the ordinance and other policies as well as activities geared towards better solid waste management will not totally solve the garbage crisis but it will lessen its impacts globally.