Measures passed to shrink plastic pollution in Cebu City

EXPECT less plastic waste in Cebu City.

This, as the City Council approved the ordinances prohibiting the use of extruded polystyrene (EPS) foam and single-use plastic in all public events and adding Friday as a “no plastic day,” a policy mandated by an ordinance requiring all commercial hubs not to use plastic.

The City Council approved the two measures during its regular session on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

With the passage of the ordinance titled “No Styrofoam and Single-Use Plastic in all Public Events in the City of Cebu,” it is now illegal to use EPS foam or foam food containers and single-use plastic in all public events.

Councilors Alvin Dizon, Nestor Archival, Joel Garganera and Jessica Resch authored the ordinance.

Public events

The ordinance’s list of public events include festivals, and school events like intramurals and foundation days. Community fiestas, religious processions and activities, sports and wellness events, entertainment activities like concerts, medical missions and river cleanups are also considered public events. Other public events are trade and food fairs, exhibition, exposition, rallies and demonstrations, and other fund-raising and leisure activities.

Unlawful

The ordinance further states: “It shall be unlawful for both event organizers and participants to use single-use plastic such as straws, grocery bags, disposable cutlery, stirrers, cups, cup lids, containers, plastic bottles, balloons, Styrofoam and packaging for all kinds of food and beverages to be consumed on the spot and plastic bunting and flaglets.”

The organizers can use reusable tumblers, reusable bottles, paper boxes or reusable plates, cloth flags instead of balloons and plastic banderitas (small flags). The ordinance encourages participants to buy reusable materials.

Enforcement

To enforce the ordinance, prior to an event, the organizer is required to undergo an orientation and submit a form containing information on the event’s name, date, time and location, event organizer and organizer’s contact details.

A 20 percent discount in amusement tax will be granted to event organizers who will follow the ordinance.

The organizer who violates the ordinance will be fined P1,000 and P3,000 with warnings for the first and second offenses, respectively. The third-time violator will be slapped with a P5,000 fine, and the organizer will not be allowed to hold and participate in any public events within a year.

If a participant is caught for using single-use plastic during an event, both the organizer and participant have to pay the fines. They can also render community service and undergo a seminar about the ordinance if they opt to evade paying the fines.

Cenro’s account

The fines will be placed under the special bank account of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), which will use the funds in curbing plastic pollution and in implementing the City’s zero-waste program.

The ordinance will take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of local circulation.

Expanded no plastic days

On the same day, the amendment to the City Ordinance 2343 regulating the use of plastic shopping bags every Wednesday and Saturday was approved.

Archival, who authored the amendment, said adding Friday to the “no plastic days” can help minimize Cebu City’s contribution to the plastic pollution.

Section 8 of the ordinance mandates business establishments to provide priority lanes for customers who are bringing their own containers, sacks, eco-bags, cloth or woven bags and the like.

The expanded “no plastic days” will take effect six months after the amended ordinance’s publication in a local newspaper of general circulation. (JJL)