Monitoring body recommends amendments to Plastic Ordinance

BAGUIO CITY – The oversight committee monitoring the implementation of Ordinance No. 36 series of 2017 or the “Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance” recommended amending the measure to make it more implementable.

But pending the amendment, the provisions of the ordinance will prevail which meant a total ban on styrofoam and plastic materials in the City including both the non-biodegradable and non-biodegradable types starting September.

In a letter to Mayor Mauricio Domogan dated May 24, City Environment and Parks Management Officer Cordelia Lacsamana who serves as action officer of the committee said amending or recasting of the ordinance by the City Council would be a better option than adopting Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) as earlier planned to avoid inconsistencies.

Lacsamana said the proposed amendments came from the inputs and feedbacks from the stakeholders during public consultations and the solutions forum and write shop held recently.

Among the proposed amendments is the inclusion of residences in the coverage of the ordinance as they also generate plastic materials sourced out from outside the City which adds to the City’s waste stream.

The committee also sought to define primary packaging materials as “those types of food grade plastic packaging for wet products like frozen foods, processed poultry, livestock products, cold cuts, ice candy, snack food, munchies, TV party foods, fat snack, chiblets, finger foods and other junk food (chicheria), products, popsicles, RTWs and other similar items” while secondary packaging materials are those “for dry goods and used to provide support to any primary packaging intended for convenience of the handler.”

Wet products refer to items that require refrigeration or freezing to maintain its shelf life, not to get soiled, incur mechanical damage or be contaminated with microorganisms such as fish, livestock, poultry, processed, fruits, vegetables, cold cuts and the like.
In the prohibited act provision of the ordinance, the committee made 14 recommendations:

*Inclusion of single use plastic cups, drinking straws, plastic stirrers, cling wrap and the like as among the prohibited materials as these are also non-recyclable items;
*In cases of factory or company packaged products, the use of food grade plastics for primary packaging be allowed to preserve the shelf life of food items and avoid damage to merchandises;
*Non-food grade plastic materials be disallowed for primary packaging for repacking factory or company packaged products. Food grade plastic containers fall into high density polyethylene or HDPE category which has excellent chemical resistant properties;
*The distribution, sale and use of polyethylene, polypropylene (PP) heavy duty, thick, microwave safe, recyclable, washable, reusable, manufactured containers, multi-use type of plastic bags as primary and secondary packaging materials or containers be allowed;
*The use of Oxo-biodegradable and bio-plastics or vegetable/starch-based plastic bags be disallowed because the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) code is not a guarantee that these are properly monitored by the Depts. Of Health and Science and Technology;
*Encourage customers to: secure food grade PP reusable, recyclable, multi-use plastic bags and containers when buying; decline plastic wrappers or small plastic bags when buying dry small items like ballpens, CD, candies and the like; not to procure condiments packed in non-food grade plastic materials like patis, soy sauce etc. and toiletries and instead opt for bulk buying or if not possible, bring appropriate containers like bottles for such;
*Packaging industries be encouraged to develop more environmentally-friendly containers;
* Encourage parents to use reusable and washable containers and utensils for baon;
*Disallow garbage bags (colored or not) as garbage receptacle or containers for solid waste materials;
*Recommended alternative for Styrofoam is the wax or aluminum coated boxes, cups and plates; for plastic stirrers, popsicle sticks will do; and for plastic straws, a paper straw coated with non-toxic resin.

The committee also sought the creation of a task force to be led by the General Services Office to include field enforcers to implement, enforce and monitor the compliance of all sectors.

Lacsamana said the proposed amendments have been submitted to the City Council for consideration.

By: Aileen P. Refuerzo

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