Baguio sees plastic-free future

BAGUIO CITY — Baguio City will soon ban even plastic straws, plastic stirrers and plastic utensils.

Baguio City councilors Maria Mylen Victoria Yaranon and Joel Alangsab are taking a second look at the ordinance regulating the sale, distribution and use of plastic bags and styrofoam.

Lots of letters from Baguio residents began swamping Yaranon and Alangsab pressing clarifications on sections four and five of the “Plastic and Styrofoam Free Baguio Ordinance”, including whether or not plastic cups were allowed for sale and distribution.

Taking cue, Yaranon and Alangsab are now proposing to ban sale and distribution even of plastic straws, plastic stirrers and plastic utensils in business establishments.

“No business as defined in this Ordinance shall provide to any customer any plastic bag, plastic straw, plastic stirrer, plastic utensils; or polystyrene foam container for goods; or items sold or served for food or drink, take out, or dine in to customers in polystyrene or plastic bags or container,” the first paragraph of the proposed amendatory ordinance states.

On August 5, 2019, Alangsab got hold of a letter asking that “the ordinance be clearly explained especially to establishments, big or small, whether they are to charge consumers for the use of paper bags, or they should provide paper bags for free.”

“To clear the air, specifically on section 5,” the duo decided to file an amendatory ordinance that finally says, “All businesses shall provide or make available to customers free paper bags; or for a reasonable cost, reusable bags or containers made of paper or materials which are biodegradable, for the purpose of carrying out goods or other items from the point of sale, subject to provisions of this Ordinance. Nothing herein prohibits customers from using bags of any other type that they bring to the stores themselves for carrying away goods in lieu of bags provided by the store, except, plastic bags which are prohibited by this Ordinance.”

“The existing regulation on the sale, distribution, and use of plastic carry/shopping bags and styrofoam in the City of Baguio needs to be updated to ensure that there is no need for interpretation when the words of the Ordinance are clear,” the proponents explained.

The amendatory ordinance has been referred to the Committee on Health and Sanitation, Ecology, and Environmental Protection.

Two years ago in 2017, the ordinance entitled “The Plastic and Styrofoam Free Baguio Ordinance” was enacted penalizing first-time offenders as reprimand while succeeding offenses will be meted the following penalties: a fine of P1,000.00 for the second offense, a fine of P3,000.00 and an eight-hour community service for the third offense, a fine of P5,000.00 and suspension of business permit for six months for the fourth offense, and non-renewal of business permit or closure of business for habitual offenders.●