Tourism Industry Urged to Respond to the Waste and Climate Crisis

Quezon City. With the anticipated increase in the number of local and foreign tourists visiting hotels and resorts during the summer break, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the tourism industry to take up the cudgels for Mother Earth.

The waste and climate advocacy group made this call after only two of the country’s many hotels and resorts made it to the list of “green” facilities recognized by the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These were the El Nido Resorts in Palawan and Shangri-La Island Resort in Mactan, Cebu.

“The fact that the Philippines only got two of the 81 ASEAN Green Hotel Recognition Awards should serve as a wake up call for the tourism industry to institute urgent environment-friendly reforms, especially those that will curtail waste, energy inefficiency and pollution in the daily operations of hotels and resorts,” said Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“It is now the turn of the entire tourism industry to extend best quality treatment to Mother Nature now that we know how ill she is with the unfolding climate change,” added Mendoza.

The 11-point ASEAN Green Hotel Standards covers policies and practices that promote sustainable tourism, including efforts to minimize the tourism industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that the memorandum circular issued in 2005 by Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano promulgating a “Zero Tourism Waste” policy should be relentlessly pursued as this will help in “greening” the tourism industry.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in 2005 embraced the said policy “to provide for a clear direction, guidance and inspiration for the tourism sector’s involvement in the ongoing national efforts to prevent, reduce, reclaim and recycle discards for the conservation of resources and the
protection of public health and the environment.”

It was adopted after the DOT, together with the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenpeace International, held a forum on tourism waste in November 2004 with Zero Waste pioneer Jayakumar Chelaton from India.

Consistent with the DOT’s commitment to sustainable tourism and development, Secretary Durano instructed the Department and its attached agencies to get educated and trained on ecological solid waste management (ESWM) and to implement programs and systems that will prevent and reduce waste.

The concerned tourism offices were also directed to update all policies and manuals for operations to make them consistent with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, with Executive Order 301 on green procurement and with other environmental laws and policies.

The memorandum circular also pointed to the need for pilot projects that will demonstrate the beauty and viability of ESWM in tourism establishments and facilities, including the “greening” of tourist attractions and festivals.

“We have had several collaborative undertakings on ESWM with the DOT and PTA. What we find lacking is a full-pledged program, with Secretary Durano himself at the helm, that will ensure the progressive implementation of the Zero Tourism Waste policy in the DOT and its attached agencies and the much wider tourism sector,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

To get started with the “greening” challenge, the EcoWaste Coalition came up with a “clean dozen” or 12 steps that hotels and resorts can do to help cut climate change, especially on the energy, water and waste fronts.

1. Use skylight in the hotel entrance, lobby and restaurant for as much of the day as possible. Light up intelligently with energy efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

2. Reduce electricity consumption with the use of motion detector light switches. Adopt the use of key card to activate power in the room.

3. Provide guests with cards or decals where they can find useful energy conservation tips.

4. Implement a towel and sheet reuse program in all guest rooms. Train the housekeeping department on proper implementation.

5. Fix all leaky faucets, sinks, toilets, showers and tubs.

6. Fit low-flow restrictors in showers and sinks, install dual flush toilets or place fill diverters in toilet tanks.

7. Harvest rain water and utilize it to meet your water requirements.

8. Water the plants with grey water, water before the sun is intense and apply mulch to keep the soil from drying fast.

9. Enforce a Zero Waste policy to ensure proactive prevention and reduction of residual waste and the maximum reuse and recycling of discarded resources. Implement the non-use of plastic liners on room trash bins.

10. Put up Ecology Centers or Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to facilitate the sorting, reuse and recycling of discards.

11. Convert biodegradable discards from the kitchen and the yard into compost that can be used as organic fertilizer for the facility’s herb, vegetable or fruit farm. Partner with the nearest barangay or farmers’ cooperative for the collection of food waste.

12. Don’t burn or dump garden waste; use fallen leaves and twigs as compost or mulch; recycle grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn to decompose.

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