ECO series on Sustainability: Solid Waste and Climate change
“According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet.” –Jay Leno
Let’s start in our homes. Much had been reported, blogged, FB posted and twitted about the worsening problem of solid waste in Metro Manila and other urban centers in the Philippines. There had been scores of seminars, conferences and fora conducted to “discuss” ways of solving the problem but not fully implementing them. For how long will it take the country to attain a zero waste economy, no one knows. But, one thing is sure – time is running out and WE need to act. NOW.
The answer is simple, but at the same time, tricky. Consider this: Metro Manila’s solid waste based on studies made by the National Solid Waste Management Commission Secretariat at the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), is estimated that per capita waste production daily is 0.5 kg; meaning every person living in the metropolis generates half a kilo of garbage a day. With an estimated population of 10.5 million, total waste generated in Metro Manila alone could run up to 5,250 metric tons per day, or 162,750 metric tons per month, a total of 1.95 million metric tons per year. Definitely, a whole lotta waste!
Our daily waste, our daily RESPONSIBILITY. Based on the EMB study, only about 73% of the 5,250 metric tons of waste generated daily are collected by dump trucks hired by our respective local government units – that is assuming our LGUs are dedicated to their duties to taxpayers. The remaining 27% of daily waste or about 1,417.5 metric tons end up in canals, vacant spaces, street corners, market places, rivers and prohibited places!
This explains why WE need to act. As we produce garbage ourselves, we are part of the problem. But, we can also be part of the solution by reducing our contribution to the worsening waste crisis and help mitigate climate change effects.
This measure is in fact 1o years too late. However, at the rate we are producing waste we will soon be having more of our human-made mountains of garbage amidst us or worse, find ourselves buried in our own trash!
The catastrophic disasters and major typhoons that brought about tragedy and casualties not to mention filthy garbage in its course, should strengthen our resolve to do something about our wasteful lifestyles.
Talks about landfill as an alternative engineering solution to the garbage problem for the so-called residual waste, is fine. But where to site the landfill is another issue.
The most important reason why we have to act now on the worsening solid waste problem is their impact on human health and climate change. Health is a basic human right. We all deserve to live in a cleaner environment- a healthy family, neighborhood and nation. The only way to satisfy these needs is to do away with garbage that spreads diseases in our homes and communities.
Landfills and rudimentary incinerators contribute to global climate change by destroying resources. Methane produced from decomposing garbage in landfill is one of the most powerful greenhouse gasses and is 23 times stronger than CO2 in capturing heat. The less we throw away, the less garbage ends up in landfills, the less methane they produce.
Republic Act No. 9003 Revisited. RA 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act” provided the legal framework for the Philippines’ systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that should ensure protection of public health and the environment more than 10 years ago. It underscored, the need to create the necessary institutional mechanisms and incentives, as well as imposes penalties for acts in violation of any of its provisions.
How R.A. No. 9003 should HAVE worked for your community:
- Creation of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), the National Ecology Center (NEC) and the Solid Waste Management Board in every province, city and municipality in the country.
- The Solid Waste Management Board of provinces, cities and municipalities shall be responsible for the development of their respective solid waste management plans.
- Mandatory segregation of solid waste to be conducted primarily at the source such as household, institutional, industrial, commercial and agricultural sources;
- Setting of minimum requirements to ensure systematic collection and transport of wastes;
- Establishment of reclamation programs and buy-back centers for recyclable and toxic materials;
- Promotion of eco-labeling in local products and services;
- Prohibition on non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging;
- Establishment of Materials Recovery Facility in every barangay or cluster of barangays;
- Prohibition against the use of open dumps;
- Setting of guidelines/criteria for the establishment of controlled dumps and sanitary landfills;
- Provision of rewards, incentives both fiscal and non-fiscal, financial assistance, grants and the like to encourage LGUs and the general public to undertake effective solid waste management.
How can we help solve the solid waste problem? Are you doing it now?
There are many ways to do it. A highly recommended formula is to adopt the 3Rs of Ecological Waste Management: REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE.
In addition, let us avoid doing these PROHIBITED ACTS under the law:
- Littering, throwing, dumping of waste materials in public places like roads, sidewalks, canals, parks and vacant lots;
- Open burning of solid waste;
- Allowing the collection of non-segregated or unsorted waste;
- Open dumping or burying of biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas;
- Mixing of source-separated recyclable material with other solid waste in any vehicle, box, container or receptacle used in solid waste collection or disposal;
- Manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials;
- Establishment or operation of open dumps; and
- Importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials.
Last but not the least, do positive. Again we emphasize the need for 3RS- REDUCE, REUSE, & RECYCLE and waste segregation in our own homes. Take Action. Demand from your political representatives and public officials to provide the basic services as mandated by RA 9003.
Waste not, want not. Prov. Cliché If you do not waste anything, you will always have enough.
SOURCE & FURTHER INFORMATION:
The National Solid Waste Management Commission Secretariat -ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU, DENR Philippines; King County Solid Waste Division. Meguro Solid Waste Managment, Tokyo, Japan.
The Coron Initiative , The Boracay Initiative & The Negros Initiative have requested for a formal tie up with the Department of Environment & Natural Resources & Environmental Management Bureau Environmental Education & Information Division in our Greening & Sustainability educational programs for public and private sector proponents in Coron, Calamianes Islands, Boracay, Negros Occidental & West Visayas in the Philippines to work with international partners Green Hotels, Clean Blue & Zero Carbon Resorts. For info and assistance in your destination or locality, email: email@example.com