Ordinance for proper disposing of face mask pushed in Cebu City
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City residents may no longer be able to dispose of face masks anywhere and anytime they want to should a proposed ordinance be passed by the City Council.
Councilor Alvin Dizon has proposed an ordinance to the council to determine the regulations on the proper disposal of face masks amid the widespread use of such during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
This after a photo documentation by the zero waste advocacy group, EcoWaste Coalition, including posts by concerned local netizens, showing used face masks, as well as empty containers of rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers, littering the streets and creeks, went viral online.
“The reckless disposal of COVID-19 protective gears and products, particularly potentially infectious face masks, poses a threat to human health and the environment and goes against the efforts of the government to clean up the city,” said Dizon.
He said the proposed ordinance would seek to stop the unsafe disposal of used face masks and related protective gears and products, to ensure the ecological management of COVID-19 waste and to promote waste workers’ health and safety, and to promote health awareness and environmental responsibility among the citizens.
The proposed ordinance shall prohibit the littering of face mask in public and providing penalties thereof.
It also mandates the putting up of information posters in public places including government offices on how face masks should be disposed of.
As a policy, all used face masks should be treated as hazardous and contaminated waste. As such, proper disposal of used face masks generated from households shall be observed.
In all households, used face masks should be cut in half to avoid their possible reuse. They shall then be disposed of by putting them in a small garbage bag, ideally yellow in color, and disinfecting them with the recommended bleach solution.
Bags containing the discarded masks must then be properly closed or sealed before disposal.
The bags should then be segregated and labeled properly with a written mark which reads “USED MASKS”, or by any yellow color indicating the international color code for hazardous waste.
Interchangeable, replaceable disposable filters utilized in reusable face masks should also undergo the aforementioned disposal procedure.
Violating the ordinance would entail penalties from P1,000 to P3,000 and even imprisonment depending on the number of times the individual made the violation.
For establishments, the penalty starts from P2,000 and can reach up to P5,000 for multiple offenses.
First-time violators may serve community service as a compromise if they cannot pay the fine.
Dizon said the ordinance would also promote reusable masks for the ordinary public so as not to add up to the garbage accumulated by using disposable face masks.
However, disposable face masks are still encouraged by the Department of Health for medical professionals and other frontliners.
The proposed ordinance is still being reviewed at the committee level./dbs
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