Three Presidential Bets to Help Informal Waste Workers Rise from Poverty

aspirants Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Mar Roxas, if elected, will
carry out measures to improve the plight of the country’s army of informal
waste workers.
The three candidates unveiled their thoughts to help impoverished informal
recyclers through the responses they provided to the questions on wastes and
toxics asked by the EcoWaste Coalition, a chemical safety and zero waste
advocacy group.  The other two candidates,
Jejomar Binay and Rodrigo Duterte, did not respond to the questions sent.
They were asked by the group about their plans to ensure that the informal waste
workers are duly recognized for their contributions to the environment and the
economy, and are provided with safe and secured jobs.

As per government definition the informal waste sector includes individuals,
families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials
to generate income.  They work under
substandard and unhealthy conditions with no social and economic security and
with limited access to basic services.
“Waste workers will benefit from the
grant-for work program my administration will introduce to complement the
conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. 
Through this initiative, we will indirectly formalize waste workers by
enlisting them as agents contracted by the state,” Santiago said.
“The outcome of research and development funds that we will funnel to recycling
and composting innovation is also expected to create job opportunities for
waste workers,” the candidate of the People’s Reform Party added.
For Poe, “the
economic and social contributions of the sector in reducing collection and
disposal costs must be recognized and incorporated as part of the framework of
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Redesign (5Rs) that governs waste
management at the local level.” 
“Once the waste recovery activities of the informal waste sector are integrated
into mainstream waste management, it must be ensured that they are given access
to health services and education, as well as protective gear such as gloves and
face masks to protect them from diseases due to their exposure to various types
of biodegradable and chemical wastes, through a joint circular from the Department
of Labor and Employment and the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources,” she said.

livelihood opportunities must be provided for the informal waste sector, such as
the establishment of recycling cooperatives, facilitating access to affordable
finance to enable investment in micro and small enterprises, and providing skills
development,” added Poe who is running under the Partido Galing at Puso.

According to Roxas of the
Daang Matuwid Coalition, “the informal sector plays a very important role in
recovering much of the usable portions of the waste and must be integrated into
the formal solid waste management system of the 
local government units (LGUs) to maximize the recovery of compostable,
recyclables and reusable portions of the waste.”
“At the same time, through their integration, they will have access to health
care services and other social services,” he pointed out.

“LGUs will be encouraged to make them part of the formal solid waste management
program of the city/municipality and mobilize them to maximize waste recovery
in the Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), which all LGUs are mandated by RA
9003 to set up,” he said.   
Roxas stressed that “budgets set aside for waste hauling should be recast to provide
budgets for waste recovery instead.”