The Philippines has eternally been famous for its splendid array of natural resources, embraced by the unconscious charm and hospitality of the Filipinos. The world has witnessed the country’s growth — from its reign as the center of Asian trade in the golden years to its thriving pursuit as a global economic hub today.
We are a haven of consumers, impacted by a direct need for products, and some, by ingenious marketing campaigns, a strong western influence. However, as many Filipinos may have forgotten, such a consumerist lifestyle necessitates a serious dose of discipline.
The line, Ang Basurang Itinapon Mo, Babalik Din Sa’yo (Your Garbage Will Come Back to You) has become a rallying call pushed among the citizenry as a reminder to be responsible in the management of their respective wastes. The message is sticky, but it did not sell, for even in the country’s National Capital Region alone, there had been an estimated 6,700 tons of generated garbage per day, and, only about 720 tons of them are recycled or composted.
The Payatas nightmare in July 2000 proved a significant milestone in changing the views of the government and the citizenry on waste concerns – a disaster which proved its significance for a deeper realization to change a system, which paved the way for the enactment of Republic Act No. 9003 (RA 9003), or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
1. What is RA 9003?
The Act essentially emphasizes the philosophy of waste as a resource that can be recovered. It lobbies the principles of reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery as means to minimize and manage the country’s solid waste management problem, to be implemented by each and every sector of the society, from the government to commercial establishments and industries, and most importantly, to the households. The Act also convened both the government and the private sector, as member-agencies of the established National Solid Waste Management Commission. Such merging of sectors has been echoed in the campaign, Sa Sama-Samang Pagkilos, Basura ay Maisasaayos! (Together, We Can Manage Our Garbage!), emphasizing the need for Filipinos to unite for change.
2. Are there any programs and projects being initiated by the National Solid Waste Management Commission?
Since the enactment of RA 9003, the Commission has engineered programs and projects that would raise, among Filipinos, consciousness on the proper practice of solid waste management. A Nationwide Search for Model Barangays on Ecological Waste Management System is now on its second round of implementation, to recognize, reward, support, and help ensure the sustainability of existing ecological solid waste management programs among local government units. This was almost synonymous to a kick-off for an LGU-wide implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management System. At present, the Commission is full gear on targeting the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management System on a LGU-wide scale to perform as models in their respective provinces, to be duplicated by other LGUs. The Commission is currently targeting 48 LGUs to serve as models, six from Metro Manila, and 42 others from fifteen regions.
Other programs being spearheaded by the Commission, in coordination and in partnership with various institutions, both private and non-government organizations, included the establishment of the National Ecological Solid Waste Pavillon, which primarily serve as a repository for a comprehensive solid waste management information database and dissemination system, and a clearinghouse for cleaner production/cleaner technologies on solid waste management.Another significant agendum is the Waste Recovery Program which targets mostly recyclable wastes.
3. What about recycling? Who else does it?
Waste is resource at a wrong place, and, a resource is always a commodity. As a matter of fact, the last few years proved to be a significant transition phase for Filipinos as consciousness on the economic value of recyclables continues to go up notches.
Paper. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Commission, has forged partnerships with private organizations like the Recyclean Foundation, Inc. for a waste paper recovery program. Under the Agreement, the Recyclean Foundation committed to pick-up any volume of waste paper on a regular basis to exchange it with finished paper products based on an agreed equivalent rate.
Tires. For used tires, the Commission tied up with the Tire Importers and Traders Association of the Philippines, Tire Manufacturers of the Philippines, and the Philippine Retreaders Association to facilitate recovery of used tires for the effective management of the waste material, which would include tire recycling, re-use and environmental sound disposal.
Plastics. In coordination with several malls and industrial parks, recovery of polystyrene wastes is being carried out by the Polystyrene Packaging Council of the Philippines that resulted in the recovery of about 8,000 cu. m. of polystyrene plastics in 2003. An Agreement was made between the council and the DOST to design melting kettles for potential recyclers to convert polystyrene into other form of materials.
Aluminum. Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. also collects aluminum cans which are processed into aluminum sheet and tubes. Recently, used Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles were collected, flaked, and processed into other materials.
Local economic giants Coca Cola, Nestle, and Unilever have acknowledged the enormous savings waste reuse and recovery could do, alongside playing their part in the preservation and care for the environment. The potential of waste reuse and recycling to provide livelihood and income to Filipinos, particularly in the rural communities, has slowly been taken into consideration by local government officials. The catchphrase, May Pera sa Basura (There’s Money in Garbage) signifies the scale of garbage’s economic importance to our people, that indeed, garbage could be gold.
4. How about dumpsites?
There are 794 open dumpsites in the country today, 107 of which are recorded as coming from Region 6 (highest among regions), with only one from the National Capital Region, a definite improvement from the ten active dumpsites in Metro Manila highlighted in the Garbage Book published by the Asian Development Bank in 2004. Of the ten dumpsites, four have already been converted to Controlled Dump Facilities: Pulang Lupa in Las Pinas, Tanza in Navotas, Lingunan in Valenzuela, and Payatas in Quezon City. Only Pier 18 in Tondo, Manila has been officially recorded as an open dumpsite, but will be permanently closed soon by the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
All dumpsites shall first be subjected to an assessment before undertaking any dump closure to determine the extent of work needed. Most dumpsites, particularly the ones operated and/or used by local government units are relatively small, thus, may not require the measures usually employed for large city dumps.
5. How will the pre-closure assessment be executed?
The pre-closure assessment should include, but will not be limited to, the following activities: a) review of available records, files, and information regarding the dumpsite; b) evaluation of potential and/or existing impacts on the ecological and human environment; and c) determination of potential contaminants (if any) which could get into the local environment, and, formulation of appropriate remedial and mitigating measures, where needed.
Prior to closure, all dumpsites are to be assessed on the following: location, access, area, lot owner, terrain, surrounding land use and surface features, nearby human receptors, hydrogeologic setting, wells, springs and surface water bodies near site, daily waste volume, waste pile dimensions and volume, extent of exposed waste, period of operation, slope, drainage, if any, evidence of contamination, presence of squatters and waste pickers, reports or evidence of spontaneous combustion, reported dumping of hazardous wastes, and number and types vehicles which bring in waste to the location.
6. What follows the pre-closure assessment of dumps?
The DENR requires cities and municipalities to prepare a rehabilitation and closure plan, following the site assessment, to be implemented by local government units. The plan should include components such as site clearing, relocation of informal settlers at dumpsite, site grading and stabilization of critical slopes, application and maintenance of soil cover, provision of drainage control system, leachate management, gas management, fencing and security, prohibition of burning at the dumpsite, and putting up of signages. Appropriate remedial and mitigating measures for identified contaminants shall also be implemented where necessary.
Closed sites that are to be found to be reused as open dumps will be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of RA 9003 and Republic Act 9275, or the Clean Water Act.
For details, please contact:
National Solid Waste Management Commission – Secretariat
c/o Environmental Management Bureau – Department of Environment and Natural Resources
2nd Flr., HRD Building, DENR Compound,
Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City,
(632) 920-2252, 920-2279, 925-4796 / 925-4797 local 3