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Plastic is out, bayong is in

This year will mark the return of the reusable “bayong” and other biodegradab le bags as a ban on the use of plastic containers in commercial establishments gets enforced in Baguio.
People going to market will now have to bring along rattan baskets and containers made of paper, buri and other biodegradable materials. Plastic bag sellers at the city market will also now have to shift to peddling “bayong” and other “green bags”.
A city ordinance passed five years ago has taken effect, aimed at drastically reducing use of plastic that daily poses an environmental disaster as wrapper and container for food and consumer goods of all types and sizes.
Ordinance 26, passed on June 25, 2007, bans supermarkets and groceries, together with retail stores in the city’s commercial zone and stalls at the city market from using plastic containers “for all dry goods and groceries”.
The ordinance, dubbed “Baguio City Paper Ordinance”, took effect last January but it came unnoticed given the five-year gap between its passage and its implementation.
It doesn’t mean, however, that plastic will be totally out of the picture.
As per Sec. 4 of the ordinance, fresh meat , fish, vegetables and fruits in the city market “may be packed in plastic containers or sando bags, provided these are placed in shopping bags allowed in this Ordinance”.
As it was approved five years before it took effect, the ordinance could have been forgotten if not for vice-mayor Daniel Farinas who, last Monday, told the city’s department heads of its effectivity.
Authored by then councilor Faustino Olowan, the regulatory ordinance was adopted on June 25, 2007 on motion of councilors Erdolfo Balajadia, Edilberto Tenefrancia and Jose Molintas.
The city council then reasoned out that “to be able to successfully launch and sustain an effective waste management program for the City of Baguio, sources of wastes should be properly looked into so as to control and regulate waste generation”.
The body noted that Republic Act 9003 also “clearly provides, among others, the institutionalization of public participation in the development and implementation of integrated, comprehensive and ecological waste management programs”.
The ordinance requires shoppers or customers in the market to provide themselves biodegradable shopping bags “or other sturdy reusable shopping bags, boxes or crates, except plastic sando bags”.
Establishments issuing plastic bags will be slapped fines of P1,000 for the first offense, P2,500 for the second and P5,000 and suspension of business permit for three months. The business permits of habitual offenders will not be renewed, the ordinance said.
“An erring business establishment shall be given 15 days after each offense to comply with this Ordinance. Non-compliance after due notice had been served shall constitute the next provided offense. – Ramon Dacawi.

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