Green Groups Back Zero Waste as Top Climate Protection Strategy

Manila, Philippines. Filipino waste and climate activists marked the World Environment Day in the historic Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila with a poignant call to stop wasteful consumption and disposal that is “warming the planet.”

Led by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), the participants coming from various school, community and non-government organizations made a pitch for a “Zero Waste” approach to protect the climate and the environment.

“The dumping and burning of discards add to the warming of the planet. Worse yet, by destroying materials that could be reused, recycled or composted, these dirty disposal practices drive a climate changing cycle that demands new resources to be extracted, processed, transported, and dumped or burned in our communities,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA.

Film actress Chin-Chin Gutierrez, recognized by Time Magazine as one of the “Asian Heroes” for her environmental advocacy, graced the creative event, holding a placard that says “Go Zero Waste for Zero Warming” next to a huge globe depicting a hurting planet.

“I hope that this timely activity will create a much-needed dent in the people’s environmental awareness and encourage our citizens, especially those who occupy critical posts in decision-making, to act with care and vigilance to trim down our climate footprint,” said Gutierrez, founding chair and president of Alaga LAHAT, a partner group of the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA.

The event coincided with the release in the U.S. of “Stop Trashing the Climate”, a new report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (Washington D.C.), Eco-Cycle (Boulder, Colorado) and GAIA (Berkeley, California) that affirms Zero Waste as a top climate protection strategy.

“Stop Trashing the Climate” documents the link between climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and wasting, dispels myths about the climate benefits of landfill gas recovery and waste incineration, and offers a roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The report provides key policy recommendations such as setting of local and national zero waste targets, eliminating subsidies to waste disposal, and ending the practice of waste incineration. The report calls for an end to the practice of landfilling and incinerating biodegradable materials, thereby preventing potent greenhouse gas emissions.

The main findings of the report include:

1. Preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling and composting programs — a combined approach known as “zero waste”—is one of the fastest, cheapest and most effective strategies we can use to protect the climate. It also offers at least 10 times the amount of jobs as landfilling and

2. Landfills are huge emitters of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and the global warming impact of these methane emissions in the short term are three times greater than reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

3. Incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour than coal-fired power plants and waste three to five times more energy than recycling conserves. This means that incinerating recyclable materials is akin to spending three to five units of energy to make one unit.

4. Significantly reducing the amount of materials that we bury in landfills and burn in incinerators has climate benefits comparable to closing one-fifth of all U.S. coal-fired power plants, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

5. The one-way flow of materials from extraction, processing, and consumption to disposal directly contributes to climate change. Waste disposal is linked to more than one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions; new resources must be continually extracted to replace those
buried or burned.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA, “‘Stop Trashing the Climate’ provides communities and nations, including the Philippines, with critical insights about the trash system in U.S. and the prevailing patterns of wasteful consumption and disposal that we must avoid to bring us to the path of climate stability and a sustainable future for all.”

The World Environment Day event in Plaza Miranda drew the participation of Alaga LAHAT, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Earth Renewal Project, EARTH UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Krusada para sa Kalikasan, MASCOMTHEA, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement, and Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan.

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