EcoWaste Coalition Urges DOT to Spearhead Zero Waste in the Tourism Sector

An environmental watchdog highlighted the need for
concerted action to prevent and reduce garbage as tourism authorities step up
the campaign to promote the “Visit the Philippines Year” in 2015.
In a statement issued after the Philippines grabbed the
coveted “Destination of the Year” during the 25th Annual TTG Travel Awards
recently held in Thailand, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed the importance of
keeping the surroundings waste-free as a requisite for a successful tourism campaign.
“Tourists will be dismayed to walk in littered streets,
frolic on filthy beaches or go snorkeling only to find discarded plastic bags
in the bosom of the sea,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste
“Nobody would want to holiday at a dirty destination
where people seem to not care for the environment,” she pointed out.
“Tourists complaining of garbage will be a bad publicity
and shoo prospective visitors away,” she added.
As it will take more than a “please don’t litter” signage
to clean up the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Department of
Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. to convene a stakeholders’ forum to
build support for Zero Waste tourism.
Vergara recalled that the DOT issued Memorandum Circular
2005-04 recognizing that “tourism establishments and facilities generate significant
volume of waste that can be considerably reduced to zero if a policy on waste
prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling and composting is put in
place and genuinely carried out.”
The circular signed by then Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace
Durano cited the need to promote ecological solid waste management (ESWM) in
the tourism sector, as well as include ESWM as a basic requirement for the accreditation
of hotels and other tourism-related establishments.
The circular also cited the need to “green” tourism
events and destinations.
The upcoming visit of Pope Francis in January and the
country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial
Meetings and Leaders’ Summit in November 2015 are expected to enhance foreign tourist
The proclamation of January as Zero Waste Month by no less than President
Benigno S. Aquino III and the anticipated influx of tourists should encourage
the DOT into retrieving the said policy from the archive and implementing creative
and systematic waste prevention and reduction programs.

“We owe it to our visitors, to ourselves and to Mother
Earth to stop the pervasive littering and throw-away culture that is harming
our health, environment, climate and the economy,” Vergara said.
Based on government data, the national waste generation
in 2015 is projected at 39,422 tons per day, up from 37,427 tons per day in
2012, as per calculation by the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
Metro Manila’s daily waste generation of 8,601 tons per day is estimated to
rise to 9,060 tons per day in 2015.