Forget not “trash terror” threats to papal visit – EcoWaste Coalition

As the country prepares a 
warm welcome for the much awaited papal visit in mid-January 2015,
during the Zero Waste Month, waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition
sounds a call to keep the event secured from an often forgotten threat –  that of trash.

“While we
don’t diminish the importance of securing the visiting Pope Francis from any
security breaches, church and government authorities and the public should be
equally mindful of the enormous piles of garbage likely to be generated as
millions crowd in on the pontiff, who is also known for his pro-environment
stance,” Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said in
a press statement issued today.
specifically urge the Papal Visit 2015-National Organizing Committee (PV-NOC)
to ensure a waste-free itinerary for the ‘green’ pope,” she said.
pointed out that the visit of Pope Francis should be “an opportune time to also
genuinely celebrate the Zero Waste Month, through the inculcation of zero waste
principles and practices in the celebration of the papal visit.”
Benigno Aquino III declares the month of January each year as “Zero Waste
Month” through Proclamation 760. “Zero Waste,” according to the proclamation, “
is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary to guide people
in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural
cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for
others to use.”
It is
estimated that the pontifical visit’s culminating event on 18 January 2015 in
Luneta alone could gather 4 to 6 million devotees, which could translate to
tons of trash if not mitigated.
The Catholic
faithful, as well as curious onlookers and enterprising vendors, will surely
pour into the streets to get a glimpse of the pope, creating additional waste,
the group noted.
The Coalition
urged the PV-NOC. Including civic, environmental and waste picker groups,   to pull together and plan ahead to ensure
that waste is effectively minimized, if not eliminated, during the occasion.
pickers and informal waste collectors, in agreement with Pope Francis’
exceptional regard for them and considering their expertise on the matter, can
take major roles in the management of discards to be generated during the
occasion of the papal visit,” Lucero emphasized.
As a matter
of guidance, the Coalition admonished the organizers to make conscious efforts
to celebrate the event with simplicity and with consideration for the environment
in keeping with the pope’s lifestyle and philosophy.
practicable measures that the group recommended to deal with “trash terror”
threats during the pontifical visit include:

– Plan, in such a way that use of single-use disposable materials, such as
plastic bags and wrappings and disposable plastic buntings are avoided; and
that discards are segregated, at least, into biodegradable, non-biodegradable,
and recyclables.

– In coordination with concerned LGUs and the MMDA, organizers should assign
areas for purposes of storing large volumes of segregated discards until they
are sold or brought to recyclers.

– Engage the services of waste pickers or informal recyclers to take charge of
waste recovery related roles and tasks.

– Deputize environmental police to accost and penalize trash violators.
“In line with
the theme of the occasion, ‘Mercy and Compassion’, devotees and even mere
spectators should reflect deeper into it toward realizing that such theme is
all encompassing and embraces the environment as well,” Lucero said.