Baguio City Hall facade (PNA file photo)

BAGUIO CITY – The city government is revisiting its existing ban on plastic bags and styrofoam to allow their use for wet goods.

"The council has approved the proposed ordinance on first reading which when approved will allow establishments to use plastic bags only as primary packaging materials for wet goods," Jordan Habbiling, information officer of the city council, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

He said the amendment is a result of the study of the council's research division that saw the need for a revision of Ordinance 35-2017 or the Plastic and Styrofoam Free Baguio Ordinance, citing market demand and the special nature of the products that require its use.

The measure, however, requires that the use of plastic bags for wet goods shall be “optimized” using the smallest possible size to contain the bought wet goods or putting two or more bought wet goods in one packaging, as long as these are safe and will not cause contamination.

It also states that wet goods pre-contained in plastic wraps, pouches, bags, and the like as part of the products’ packaging shall not be contained further in plastic bags or if placed in a customer-supplied “reusable” pre-cleaned and sanitized hard plastic container.

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, and insulators 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.

Since the ordinance's passage in 2017, establishments in the city have avoided the use of plastic in the packaging of products and encouraged buyers to bring their eco-bags for their purchases.

Meanwhile, the city government started the implementation of the rule prohibiting the use of plastic and styrofoam in its offices.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong in an executive order issued in September imposed a ban on the use of plastic containers at city hall starting Oct.1. (PNA)