Watchdog Calls for Waste Prevention and Reduction as New Year’s Revelry Produces Tons of Garbage

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, today sought the active participation of the public in solving one of the nation’s perennial environmental woes: garbage.
The group urged the public to take to heart essential waste prevention and reduction practices in line with Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, after the lively New Year’s revelry churned out tons of garbage.

“As we usher in the New Year, we appeal to everyone to cut back on our waste by consuming responsibly and consciously reducing, reusing, recycling and composting our discards,” said Romy Hidalgo, Steering Commitee Member, EcoWaste Coalition. and NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

“It is our civic and environmental duty to segregate our discards and divert whatever we could away from dumps, landfills, cement kilns, incinerators and other disposal sites,” he pointed out.

Some practical efforts that can help in diverting discards away from disposal facilities include using reusable carry bags and containers in lieu of plastic and Styrofoam, buying products in minimal packaging, recycling and not simply throwing or burning discards, composting kitchen waste, and persuading friends and relatives to shift to ‘greener’ lifestyle, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Citing data from the NSWMC’s website, the EcoWaste Coalition observed that the current waste diversion rate is only 34%. As defined under R.A. 9003, waste diversion pertains to “activities which reduce or eliminate the amount of solid waste from waste disposal facilities.”

As per government data, the country has 606 open dumpsites, 339 controlled dumpsites and 44 “sanitary” landfills. R.A. 9003 has disallowed open and controlled dumpsites since February 2004 and February 2006, respectively, and rendered their operations illegal, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

Reports received by the group from its Basura Patrollers revealed unsightly garbage discarded in many streets for sweepers to clean up, or hanged in lamp posts, piled next to road signs and dumped in street corners, sidewalks and vacant lots.

Firecracker paper, cardboard and cellophane remnants, food packaging materials, especially Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, cigarette butts and food leftovers were among the most noticeable discards the greeted revelers the morning after the festivities.

Adding to the toxic fumes from the explosion of firecrackers and fireworks was the smoke from paputok residues and party discards that some people chose to burn, which, like littering, is prohibited under R.A. 9003, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.
A Basura Patroller who went to Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, home of most revered image of the Black Nazarene, described the historic square and the adjacent streets of Carriedo, R. Hidalgo, Villalobos and C. Palanca, as a stinking“magic snow land” due to the heaps of white polystyrene fruit containers and other garbage abandoned by vendors and revelers.

A Basura Patroller reported seeing assorted trash, especially food containers and scraps, left behind people who visited Rizal Park for the New Year extravaganza that attracted hundreds of thousands of revelers from near and afar.

A Basura Patroller noted that some people chose the occasion to dispose of bulky waste such as the three pieces of tattered sofa dumped in the corner of Hormiga and Pateros Sts., Barangay Olympia, Makati City.

According to government figures, Metro Manila generates up to 8,600 tons daily, which is equivalent to about 25% of the national daily waste generation of some 35,000 tons.

Comprising 50% of Metro Manila’s waste are food and organic discards, 25% plastic, 12% paper, 5% metals, 3% glass, 1% hazardous waste and 4% residual waste.