Green Groups Push Zero Waste to Create Jobs

Quezon City. Two major health and environmental networks made a pitch for green jobs through innovative Zero Waste programs that create sustainable livelihood from discards.

At a seminar held last week in Quezon City that attracted some 50 people, mostly community women, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) drew attention to the tremendous job potentials from clean recycling.

Among those who took part in the animated sharing of views and skills on Zero Waste jobs were members of Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Ecology Ministry of the Diocese of Caloocan, GAIA, Kapatiran Komunidad People’s Coalition-SPM, Krusada sa Kalikasan, November 17 Movement, SALIKA, Samahan ng mga Maralita sa Isla Puting Bato, Sining Yapak, St. Joseph Ecology Ministry, Urban Poor Associates, WomanHealth and the Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines.

Lead speaker Shibu Nair from Thanal, a GAIA partner group from India, left participants inspired with the success of their Zero Waste program in the beach town of Kovalam in Kerala, India that has spawned over 100 jobs for village women.

“Zero Waste means jobs,” an elated Shibu Nair said, adding that “our continuing work to prevent resources from being burned or buried has reduced trash while creating job opportunities for local people.”

During the last few years, Shibu Nair’s group has developed and sustained recycling-based jobs such as turning old newspapers and magazines into ecological alternatives to plastic bags, making functional and decorative crafts from coconut shells, and sewing
beautiful tapestries and other items from tailor scraps.

Recycling advocates Elsie Brandes-De Veyra, Ampie Doblado and Ofelia Panganiban provided meaningful insights into the economic, health and environmental benefits of Zero Waste jobs based on their actual experiences of working with community people.

Ampie Doblado, for instance, shared the income-generating endeavor of the women members of Buklod Tao, in cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA, from the production of functional carry bags out of used juice packs and cheese cloth.

“Given the proven job potentials of Zero Waste programs and enterprises, I urge our local and national authorities to invest more in non-toxic reusing and recycling industries and create market demand for products made of reused and recycled materials,” said Ofelia Panganiban of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

According to GAIA, recycling provides productive work for an estimated 1% of the population in developing countries like the Philippines, in processes such as collection, recovery, sorting, grading, cleaning, baling, processing, and manufacturing into new products.

Information from GAIA’s campaign “Recycling Works” indicates that recycling industries provide employment to over a million Americans, which is reportedly comparable in size to the US auto manufacturing and machinery manufacturing industries.

Recycling jobs in US generate an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion and gross over $236 billion in annual revenue.