Green Groups Back Proposed Summit to Address Metro Garbage Woes

Quezon City. Environmental groups welcomed the proposal by Sen. Pia Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and Co-Chairperson of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, for a summit that will map out plans to reduce Metro Manila’s huge garbage output of 7,417 tons per day and cut landfill dependency.

In a text and phone survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, concerned groups expressed support for a summit that will hopefully unite Metro Manila mayors, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the industry, civil society organizations and the citizenry in enforcing waste prevention and reduction measures to solve the perennial garbage woes in the national capital region.

Among those who saw the relevance of a summit in the face of the recurrent garbage disposal crisis are the Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Earth Renewal Project, Environmental Broadcast Circle, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Miriam PEACE, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan, Soljuspax and Zero Waste Philippines.

“The summit should serve as a venue that will affirm and fast track ecological and sustainable strategies for the progressive reduction to zero of the volume of garbage being dumped and burned. We would like to see the summit agreeing on the urgent need to shift the money being spent for costly waste disposal to funding Zero Waste solutions, including the establishment of community ecology centers in all barangays,” Rei Panaligan of the EcoWaste Coalition said, adding that “a good number of existing models and best practices in different local communities prove that we can win the war over garbage without dumps and incinerators.”

“The summit should ensure that vital enforcement mechanisms are on board and in place. It must be well-planned so that it will yield concrete action plans that will support and strengthen alternatives to wasting, dumping and burning. Otherwise, it will just be another exercise in lip service and a waste of public funds,” many of the green groups pointed out.

The EcoWaste Coalition hopes that the summit can lead to the establishment of more ecology centers or MRFs in the metropolis to energize community recycling at the grassroots level. Data obtained from the MMDA show that only 435 barangays out of 1,695 barangays have MRFs.

The Coalition further hopes that the summit can address the low public awareness regarding Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. A Greenpeace-commissioned Social Weather Survey released in January 2008 revealed that 50% of the respondents were not aware of environmental laws passed to help prevent pollution in the country, while only 27% were aware of R.A. 9003 — an indicator of how poorly the law is enforced.

Other potential action points that the proposed summit can endorse and act upon, according to the green groups, include the enforcement of waste segregation at source, the imposition of a ban on landfilling of compostable and recyclable materials, the integration of waste pickers in ecological waste management, the introduction of volume-based fees for trash collection, the regulation of single-use plastic products and packaging materials, and the adoption of producer responsibility for their products and packaging throughout their life cycle.

According to a letter received by the EcoWaste Coalition from the MMDA in March 2008, all of Metro Manila’s 17 local government units (LGUs) have constituted their solid waste management (SWM) boards. Out of 1,695 barangays in the metropolis, 1,380 or 81.42% have organized their barangay SWM committees.

However, the same letter revealed that only 806 barangays or 47.55% are implementing segregation at source and segregated waste collection, resulting in a dismally low waste diversion rate of only 25.69% with the recovery of recyclables and the composting of organics.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

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