New ordinance penalizes improper disposal of PPEs

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WHEN in Cebu City, used masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) should be disposed properly in the coming days or face penalties.

This, as the Cebu City Council approved on Jan. 27, 2021 an ordinance which prohibits the improper disposal of face masks and other Covid-19 PPEs.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Alvin Dizon mandates the public to separate used masks and PPEs from regular trash by putting them in a yellow plastic bag or by marking the trash bag with a yellow line indicating the international color code for hazardous waste.

The public can also just put the sign “USED MASKS” on the plastic bag, according to the ordinance.

Used masks should also be cut in half to avoid possible reuse and their trash bags disinfected, the ordinance said.

The ordinance also prohibits the throwing of used masks, face shields, hand gloves, and other Covid-related discards in public places such as streets, sidewalks, parks, canals, esteros, and other bodies of water.

Designated areas

All offices of the Cebu City Hall, commercial establishments, hospitals, medical clinics, and educational and religious institutions are required to provide designated bins with labels indicating the hazardous nature of the waste to ensure the proper disposal of face masks and other PPEs within the premises.

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

Violators will be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P3,000 or one month imprisonment for the third and subsequent offense.

The violator may also avail of a “compromise fee” of P500 or do community service.

If the violator is an establishment or an organization, a fine of P2,000 will be imposed for the first offense; P3,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 or the revocation of the business permit for third and subsequent offense.

The ordinance covers all types of masks, face shields, hand gloves, and other Covid-19 protective gear including disinfectants, hygiene products, wipes, tissues, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers.

The ordinance also promotes the use of reusable and environmentally-friendly masks made of organic or recyclable materials.

An information and education campaign will be undertaken by the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) and the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC).

The Cenro is also mandated to maintain a database of the violators.

“The reckless disposal of Covid-19 protective gears and products, particularly potentially infectious masks, poses a threat to human health and environment and goes against the efforts of the government to clean up the city,” said Dizon. / JJL