28 November 2007

Citizens' Groups Join Global Action for “Zero Waste for Zero Warming”

Serve Closure Notice to DENR

for Condoning Toxic Pollution

Quezon City, Philippines. As the international community faces up to the looming climate change, public interest groups from over 30 countries across the globe are pushing for “Zero Waste for Zero Warming” as an urgent solution to cut back and combat greenhouse gas emissions from dirty waste disposal technologies.

To mark the annual Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration, now on its sixth year, environmental health and justice groups took action to raise citizens' opposition over the reckless marketing and financing for landfills and incinerators, highlighting the fact that dirty technologies will not clear the atmosphere of climate changing emissions. Together, the groups called for global support for Zero Waste alternatives to dirty waste disposal technologies.

We ask governments and funders to cease from poisoning our communities with toxic pollutants from the obsolete practice of dumping and incinerating discards, which significantly contribute to the climate change crisis. Instead, we call for global support and action towards Zero Waste that will eliminate trash and pollution, advance sustainable systems for managing discards, conserve materials, save energy, and create green and sustainable jobs for the people,” said Gigie Cruz of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives / Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA).

In Quezon City, some 100 community representatives and environmental activists trooped to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ main office to symbolically close it down for its gross negligence in upholding its mandate to protect public health and the environment. The protestors installed a huge signage with a mock padlock that says “DENR Closed for inaction against climate-changing pollution from toxic dumps, landfills and incinerators.”

Romy Hidalgo, representing the EcoWaste Coalition, expressed the group's support to the promotion of Zero Waste as a core strategy in preventing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying that “waste policies, programs and funds must prioritize waste prevention, reduction, reuse, repair, recycling and composting as concrete measures to save energy and avoid greenhouse gases.”

We are serving this notice of closure to the DENR and the National Solid Waste Management Commission because of their dismal failure to stop the destructive practice of waste dumping and burning, which emits toxic pollutants that contribute to the worsening weather patterns. Our action today reflects our extreme dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to shut down the over 1,000 illegal dumps in the country and pursue best practices in ecological waste management, without dumping and incineration,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo reiterated the need to ban the disposal of biodegradable waste in dumps to prevent the production of methane. “Let us keep organic materials out of dumps and landfills. When biodegradable materials are left to rot in dumps, they emit methane gas that contribute to climate change. It is ridiculous to throw these materials away when they can be composted and used as completely safe and organic soil enrichers, instead of using chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides that leach and contaminate soil and groundwater,” he explained.

In the face of the climate crisis, incinerator and landfill industries, observed the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA, are aggressively peddling these end-of-pipe toxic technologies in the guise of “green energy”. By using names like Waste-to-Energy, gasification, and plasma, waste disposal companies have gained access to public money handouts and subsidies through renewable energy policies and some “green” programs encouraging the construction and expansion of expensive, pollution-ridden and climate-changing disposal projects, hampering community-based efforts to stop waste and global warming.

A European study shows that incinerators blow more carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the stack per unit of electricity generated compared to coal-fired power plants. In the U.S., landfills are the largest source of methane (CH4) – a global warming gas 23 times more powerful than CO2. Disposal technologies feed on diminishing resources that should be recycled or composted like paper, food waste, plastic, and aluminum, and are counter to efforts to reduce what is put in the trash in the first place.

Incineration further drives a negative spiral of increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Restrictive policies in typical incinerator contracts require a set amount of garbage. These contracts impose fees that that are a disincentive for a city to improve waste prevention strategies and recycling and composting collections.

Today’s protest at the DENR was participated in by Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance/Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm Asia, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement and Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan.

For more information, please contact:

GAIA: Gigie Cruz – 4364733, 0917-8250802
EcoWaste: Rei Panaligan – 9290376, 0920-9062348

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

27 November 2007

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals for Barangay Leadership and Action vs Garbage

PHILIPPINES. As the newly elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials commence their term of office on 30 November 2007, a public interest waste and pollution watchdog pleaded for greater grassroots leadership and action to solve the never-ending garbage woes.

“We appeal to all duly proclaimed barangay officials of Metro Manila and the entire nation to make Zero Waste resource management the cornerstone of their program for cleaner and healthier neighborhoods,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, adding that the “barangay-led ecological movement to eliminating waste is our best alternative to costly and polluting waste disposal technologies that contribute to ill health and climate change.”

The EcoWaste Coalition aired this appeal in view of the uninspiring enforcement of Republic Act 9003 in most of the country’s 41,994 barangays. Also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, this law provides for a comprehensive and environment-friendly
approach to managing discards mainly through waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

The law empowers the local government units, especially the barangays, to proactively manage the community discards in ways that will not harm the environment. Under R.A. 9003, the barangay is tasked to develop an ecological solid waste management program, promote waste separation at source, enforce a segregated collection for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, and establish Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.

The MRF, also known as Ecology Center, is deemed essential in systematically managing and reclaiming discards, which would otherwise end up in waterways, dumpsites or landfills and result to the formation and release of toxic leachate, greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other chemical threats to the community health and environment.

Government statistics show that only 1,714 MRFs serving 1,921 barangays have been established to date, which is so small compared with the 41,994 barangays across the archipelago. Over a thousand illegal mixed waste dumpsites exist, while “guerilla” dumps are commonly seen in street corners or vacant lots in clear violation of R.A. 9003.

“Indiscriminate littering, dumping and burning of discards are fast becoming a national culture. We need to put our acts together if we want to stop these destructive practices that blight and poison our surroundings and make a mockery of R.A. 9003,” Panaligan said.

“Effective barangay leadership and action towards Zero Waste will not only clear our neighborhoods of litter and pollution, but will also open up concrete opportunities to raise the people’s ecological awareness and responsibility as well as create employment and livelihood from the reuse, repair, recycling and composting of waste resources,” Panaligan stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition also reiterated the need for barangay leaders to recognize, integrate and partner with the informal recycling sector, including the waste pickers, as they reorganize their Ecological Solid Waste Management Boards and review their work plans.

For inquiries, please contact Rei Panaligan at 9290376 or 0920-9062348.

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