08 May 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for 'Real Action' vs Dumps

Quezon City. The waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition welcomed Environment Secretary Lito Atienza’s long overdue directive to shut down all open dumpsites, albeit with a warning that it should not turn the Philippines into an open country for quick technological fixes that can further harm the people and the environment.

“The closure order is long overdue. We’ve heard that before from other bureaucrats and politicians. What we want to see is real action, and we’ll only start believing Sec. Atienza if we see parallel policies and investments in real solutions to the waste crisis,” said Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition and concurrent coordinator of the group’s Task Force on Dumps/Landfills.

“It’s a good sound bite,” commented film actor Roy Alvarez, Vice-Chair of the EcoWaste Coalition, adding that “the closure order must be in black and white in the form of a Department Administrative Order, not a press release, that will also direct all local government units to enforce a self-reliant plan for ecological solid waste management towards the envisioned Zero Waste goal.”

The ecological solid waste management plan, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, should lay emphasis on community education and implementation of proactive waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting through the establishment of people-driven ecology centers or materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and not rely on financially and environmentally costly “sanitary” landfills or “waste-to-energy” incinerators.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed grave concern about the tendency of some government officials and personnel to equate dump closure with the setting up of landfills, or “glorified dumps,” and repackaged waste burners, asserting that R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 calls for the adoption of best practices in line with ecologically sustainable development principles, excluding incineration.

From the perspective of public health, the environment and the economy, neither landfills nor incinerators provide ecological, socially just and sustainable solutions to the country’s garbage woes, the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

“Every time we engage with local government units that host dumping facilities, we are constantly confronted with the ‘wrong’ question: ‘where can we put the garbage being generated by our constituents and the institutions and industries in our jurisdiction if the dump is closed?”
Hidalgo said.

“Instead of putting their energy on finding communities that can be sacrificed to bear the brunt of our wasteful consumption, we believe that the LGUs and the National Solid Waste Management Commission should focus on holistic waste prevention, minimization and recovery policies and programs, including the adoption of clean methodologies for addressing the residuals that will not release harmful environmental pollutants such as dioxins and furans,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition further called on Sec. Atienza and the local government executives to ensure alternative livelihood for the informal recyclers such as the waste pickers who undertake the very dirty and hazardous job of foraging the dumps for recyclable materials that can be
sold.

“We stand for the integration of the waste pickers in the LGUs’ ecological waste management systems. They should be the first priority in the hiring, so as to afford them with humane employment that will provide them with basic health and social security,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

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

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