July 25, 2024

The city council has approved on first reading a proposed ordinance that would allow business establishments to use plastic bags only as primary packaging materials for wet goods. 
The proposed ordinance was crafted based on the legislative tracking report of the city council’s Research Division. It seeks to amend Ordinance 35-2017 or the Plastic and Styrofoam Free Baguio Ordinance enacted in 2017.
Section 5 of the proposed amendment states, “Plastic labo bags may be used for wet goods as primary containers.”
A plastic labo bag is a translucent handle-less plastic film bag made of high-density polyethylene and is mostly used as primary packaging for fresh food, produce, and small amounts of grocery items. 
Section 5 added the use of plastic bags for wet goods shall be optimized. For example, using the smallest size of the plastic bag possible to contain the bought wet goods or putting in two or more bought wet goods in one packaging if it is safe and will not cause contamination.
The same section further indicates wet goods already pre-contained in plastic wraps, pouches, bags, and the like as part of the products’ packaging shall not be contained further in plastic bags.
Other wet goods that are not pre-contained in said materials shall also be contained in customer-supplied reusable pre-cleaned and sanitized hard plastic containers.
The prohibition on the use of plastic bags shall then be amended as follows: “The use of plastic bags as primary packaging materials for dry goods and as secondary packaging materials for wet goods shall be prohibited.”
Section 6 of the proposed amendment provides a business owner who provide bags labeled as ‘oxo-biodegradable’ or words/phrases to that effect with the international logo of the plastic coding system for its proper reuse and printed with 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 of the Monitoring and Oversight Committee.
The business owners shall provide a copy of the latest ETV registration number, the latest laboratory results, and a certification from the DOST that the plastic bag is biodegradable.
The task force shall provide a list of plastic manufacturers that have undergone the ETV for biodegradable plastics to the business establishments through the concerned punong barangay for posting and dissemination and inspection of these business establishments using biodegradable plastic bags on a periodic basis prior to the renewal of business permits.
Other instances when plastic and styrofoam materials are allowed to be used as containers are as follows:
Using plastic bags with no handles, holes, or strings as primary packaging for wrapping unpacked fresh foods and cooked foods in supermarkets, wet and dry markets, restaurants, canteens, and the like, since the use of such is justified for hygiene purposes;
Using styrofoam as ice chests, insulators, and /or for any similar purpose; and
Using primary packaging materials like single-use thin plastic films to preserve and not contaminate wet and dry items and for factory or company-packaged products.
Other amendments include the reconstitution of the task force and its roles and duties and the use of citation tickets for apprehension. 
The proposed amendatory ordinance has been referred to the city council’s committee on health and sanitation, ecology, and environmental protection for review. – Jordan G. Habbiling