6 May 2011, Quezon City. As schools get ready for the opening of the new academic year, a pollution watchdog has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to push the country’s 55,230 public and private elementary and secondary schools to go for “Zero Waste.”
The EcoWaste Coalition specifically requested Education Secretary Armin Luistro, FSC to issue a memorandum that will remind school administrators to put in place appropriate policies and systems for reducing and managing school discards if they have not yet done so. The last time the Education Department issued a reminder on the implementation of ecological solid waste management in schools, observed the EcoWaste Coalition, was in 2001 during the term of then Secretary Andrew Gonzalez, FSC.
“With another La Sallian brother at the helm of department, we hope to see more schools becoming centers of excellence in terms of eliminating garbage and promoting environmental stewardship and action among our students and citizens,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition. “Zero waste resource management will contribute to a healthy and socially-responsible school system that will not add to the 35,000 tons of trash that the whole country generates each day,” he emphasized. Alvarez recalled that DECS Memorandum No. 33-2001 provided for the monitoring of school implementation of ecological solid waste management, including the promotion of “sorting-at-source,” the “use of recycled materials” and “banning any form of open burning.” “Now is the best time for DepEd to reiterate school involvement on Zero Waste resource management as this will complement the government’s national green agenda, particularly in preventing and reducing trash,” said Christina Vergara of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“The memorandum can also include attractive incentives for schools to enforce and shine in ecological waste management, including morale-boosting commendations for practising schools,” she added. According to the Coalition, the country is not lacking in model schools in both public and private sectors that can provide aspiring educational institutions with practical knowledge on how to “green” their schools. The group cited the grand winners of the “National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools,” namely, the Peñablanca East Central Elementary School in Peñablanca, Cagayan, La Castellana National High School in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, and Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa; the recipients of the “Dark Green School” label from the Environmental Education Network of the Philippines such as the De La Salle University- Dasmariñas Cavite, Miriam College in Quezon City and Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte; and the Cavite Institute in Silang, Cavite, which the World Bank cited for its innovative recycling for scholarship program.