Quezon City. Community practitioners of ecological waste management pressed for the enforcement of a critical provision of the country’s waste law that is deemed essential for cutting the volume of residual waste that often gets burned or dumped.
In a dialogue held yesterday in Quezon City with Atty. Zoilo Andin, Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), representatives of Buklod Tao and the EcoWaste Coalition decried the lack of progress in the process that will identify and phase out non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials, or NEAP, as directed by R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
R.A 9003 directs the NSWMC to formulate a list of NEAP after due public notice and hearing. The same law prohibits the manufacture, distribution or use of NEAP as well as the importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials.
To emphasize the problem with NEAP, Buklod Tao brought to the attention of the Commission their problem with plastic wrappers, sachets and other packaging materials that are left behind once the more saleable recyclables are removed from the segregated discards.
“We tried our level best for the last 10 years to sort, reclaim and recycle our discards to prevent them from being burned or dumped elsewhere. Instead of sending things that we can not reuse or recycle straight to the dump, we made special arrangements for them to be reprocessed,” Noli Abinales of Buklod Tao, a civic group based in San Mateo, Rizal and an affiliate of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.
In 2002, for instance, the St. Exequiel Moreno Recolletos Seminary received Buklod Tao’s segregated plastic residual waste, while in 2003, the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) accepted 20 garbage bags filled with plastic residuals from the group.
“In our desire not to burden other communities with our trash, we have accumulated a stockpile of more than 100 sacks of plastic residual waste that many junk dealers refuse to buy. Finally, we went to the Trinoma waste market last April 25 with a truckload of plastic residual waste, but out of the 110 sacks only four sacks were accepted and bought for a measly P4.75 pesos,” Abinales lamented.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the problem with residual waste brings to the fore at least three issues that require urgent action from the government, industries and the consumers: 1) the need for the NSWMC to resume the process that will identify, list and schedule the phase out of NEAP, 2) the need to institute producer take back for products and packaging materials at the end of their useful life, and 3) the need to reform consumption choices that will minimize the purchase and use of materials that are hardly reused or recycled.
In his reply to the Buklod Tao and EcoWaste Coalition representatives, Atty. Andin explained that the Commission in May 2006 designated the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology as co-chairs of the committee tasked to look into the provisions on NEAP in R.A. 9003. The committee met on few occasions, but the process was regrettably stalled.
Atty. Andin acknowledged that the classification and prohibition on NEAP is “the mandate of the law and should be pursued.”
R.A. 9003 sets tough punishment for violators of the law’s prohibition on NEAP. For first time offenders, a fine of P500,000 shall be imposed, plus an amount of not less than 5% but not more than 10% of the person’s net annual income during the previous year. Additional imprisonment of a minimum period of one year but not exceeding three years shall be imposed for second or subsequent violations.
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