Issue of July 8, 2018
     
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2018
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Acceptance of biodegradable plastics as packaging pushed
by Hanna C. Lacsamana and Aileen P. Refuerzo

With the help of new technology, Baguio residents might find respite from the strict ban on the use plastic and Styrofoam without harming the environment.

In backing moves to amend the Plastic and Styrofoam-free Baguio City Ordinance, Mayor Mauricio Domogan pushed for the use of environment-friendly plastic packaging products certified by the Department of Science and Technology to resolve the call of concerned sectors that can hardly cope with the total plastic prohibition.

“We really need to amend the plastic ordinance. Let us not ban the advantages of technology. As technology is continuing to improve, we can now produce biodegradable plastic,” the mayor said last Wednesday.

He said the city is already coordinating with the DOST, where biodegradable plastics as an option was presented and found viable.

Domogan, however, agreed that non-biodegradable plastic packaging materials should be totally banned.

“Whether we like it not, using plastic materials is convenient,” he said.

He added that while using paper-based bags is also an option, it would not be practical when buying wet goods particularly those bought in markets. Compelling the public to use paper bags in packaging would entail the cutting of more trees, which is its main raw material.

“We support the idea of amending the ordinance, that is we make sure that what we will be using are those proven not hazardous to our environment,” he said.

Last week, Baguio Regreening Movement Chair and former councilor Erdolfo Balajadia and some environment groups expressed reservations on the proposals to amend the existing ordinance, saying allowing exemptions on the use of plastic will defeat the purpose of the measure to reduce plastic use.

Ordinance 36-2017 imposes a total ban on Styrofoam and plastic materials in the city including both the non-biodegradable and biodegradable types.

This will be fully implemented in September after the city granted the request of the business sector to allow them to dispose their stocks of sando bags.

Earlier, the oversight committee monitoring the implementation of the measure headed by action officer City Environment and Parks Management Officer Cordelia Lacsamana last May recommended to the city council recasting the measure based on the inputs gathered from the stakeholders during public consultations.

The recommendations, however, did not include allowing new plastic technologies.

In fact, one of the suggested amendments was to disallow the use of oxo-biodegradable and bio-plastics or vegetable or starch-based plastic bags “because the Environmental Technology Verification code is not a guarantee that these are properly monitored by the Department of Health and DOST.

Among the proposed amendments are the inclusion of residences in the coverage of the ordinance and the 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; allowing the use of food grade plastics for primary packaging for factory or company packaged products to preserve the shelf life of food items and avoid damage to merchandises as well as the 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.


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