Quezon City. At the outset of the new academic year, an environmental network called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to turn the entire school system into a dynamic hub where young Filipinos can learn about Zero Waste as a way of life.
In a statement released in time for the reopening of classes, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the DepEd to assume a leading role in spreading the Zero Waste value among students in theory and practice.
“Next to our homes, the schools provide the best training grounds for instilling ecological awareness, responsibility and action among our kids, especially in preventing and reducing waste,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“If DepEd will be able to pass on the Zero Waste value to the country’s over 23 million students, we’ll have a formidable army of earth-loving Filipinos who will shun wastefulness, including the irksome habit of mixing, littering and burning trash,” he added.
“By starting them young on how we can avoid waste and manage our discards in a way that will not degrade and damage the environment, we can have better chances of implementing Republic Act 9003,” Alvarez said.
R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001, among other features, requires comprehensive waste segregation at source, waste avoidance, waste volume reduction and the ecological management of discards such as reuse, recycling and composting activities, excluding waste incineration.
For her part, Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, drew attention to the need for a Department Administrative Order (DAO) on Zero Waste.
“Through a DAO or any equivalent instrument, DepEd can formalize an agency-wide directive that will ensure a systematic awareness-raising on Zero Waste and its practical enforcement within the school system,” Sison said.
“The DepEd policy should incorporate Zero Waste in the curriculum, classroom and extra-curricular activities, establish an Ecological Solid Waste Management Program, evaluate and track progress towards the Zero Waste goal at the school level,” she said.
According to the “Guide to Zero Waste Schools” published by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a school-based Zero Waste program should aspire to:
1. Promote and inculcate ecological awareness, action and commitment among stakeholders.
2. Push for school policies and programs that will avoid and reduce the generation of wastes and toxics, and prevent climate change.
3. Implement the best practices in ecological solid waste management, including materials substitution, reuse, repair, recycling and composting.
4. Support safe and sustainable livelihood and enterprise for school and community recyclers.
Every member of the school community has a role in promoting and advancing Zero Waste, the EcoWaste Coalition said, stressing that the cooperation of all stakeholders, including the students, teachers, parents, school officials, janitorial, maintenance and custodial staff, canteen operators and vendors, and suppliers, is essential to make it work.