02 November 2014

EcoWaste Coalition decries Undas trash





Photos courtesy of Tin Vergara

A day after the Filipino nation’s observance of Undas, a zero waste advocacy network denounced littering and unsound waste management practices in many cemeteries that still spoiled All Hallows despite yearly pleadings.

Even with the group’s recent release of what it termed as the “Cemetiquette” or cemetery etiquette to guide cemetery-goers toward “environmental responsibility and commonsensical good manners” in commemorating Undas, EcoWaste Coalition today said “the Zombasura attitude in many cemetery-goers remains a huge challenge.”

The coalition coined the term “Zombasura” to describe the kind of wasteful and non-environment friendly attitude of cemetery visitors during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

“We mourn the apparent disregard to the dead of many who visited their departed loved ones, as the abode of the deceased was strewn with litter on Undas, the day Filipinos as a nation traditionally remember their beloved dead,” exclaimed Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Program Officer of EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the statement today at the time its secretariat and volunteers from the MAlikhaing LAndas na magpapaYAbong sa sining at kultura (MALAYA-Cavite) took part in the clean-up of trash left by some two million visitors at the Manila North Cemetery.

“The garbage before us is a living testament to the rampant disregard, not only to the dead, but also to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, which explicitly prohibits littering, open dumping, and open burning of garbage in public places,” Vergara said during the early-morning clean-up.

As its yearly practice, EcoWaste Coalition, through its Basura Patrollers, monitored waste situations yesterday in various Metro Manila cemeteries, namely the Angono Municipal Cemetery in Angono, Rizal; Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City; Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City; Manila North Cemetery in Manila City; Manila South Cemetery in Makati City; Obando Municipal Cemetery in Obando, Bulacan; Paraiso Memorial Park in San Mateo, Rizal; Pasay City Cemetery in Pasay City; Pasig City Cemetery in Pasig City; Sto. Rosario Cemetery in Taytay, Rizal; and Indang Municipal, Himlayang Paraiso, Roman Catholic, and Seven Angels Cemeteries, all in Indang, Cavite.

The Basura Patrollers noted that cemetery discards mostly comprised of food wastes, single-use disposable plastic packaging and containers (e.g. junk food wrappers, plastic bags, plates, cups and cutlery, and Styrofoam containers) plastic flower wraps, plastic bottles, soiled brown bags, newspapers, commercial leaflets, pizza boxes, cigarette butts, and barbecue sticks.

The prevalent use of tarpaulins was also a major concern, as these end up as wastes at the end of the day, according to the coalition. Evidences of open burning, mostly committed during the pre-Undas clean-up, have also been reported.

“Nonetheless, in some cemeteries, our patrollers have observed visitors keeping their waste materials in their own garbage bags preventing unsightly litters. This is commendable, although many times, this only resembles proper solid waste management, such as when wastes are not segregated and/or were left behind. RA 9003 prohibits non-segregation of wastes; and since wastes are left in cemeteries, it is tantamount to littering and open dumping,” Vergara noted.

The EcoWaste Coalition also took notice of improvement in policies and practices associated with waste management and environmental protection by cemetery administrations, namely:

  • The municipal government of Angono for its enforcement of the “Basura mo, Iuwi mo” policy at the Angono Municipal Cemetery;
  • Manila North and South Cemeteries for their not using disposable plastic buntings this time and for putting up signage reminding cemetery goers to keep the cemetery clean; and
  • Manila Memorial Park (MMP) in Parañaque City for its prohibition on nailing of advertisements on trees, a turnaround from its last year’s practice.

“We commend the administrations of these cemeteries for their efforts in addressing solid waste and instituting environmental protection measures in their areas of concern; but then again, we see more rooms for improvement next year, specifically on enforcing appropriate provisions of RA 9003, such as the prohibitions on littering, open dumping, and burning of wastes,” expressed Vergara.

“These good practices in keeping up with the spirit of the ‘Cemetiquette’ and similar commonsensical ecofriendly and good manners in the cemetery are concrete confirmations that they are not farfetched, rather, workable and effective,” Vergara emphasized.

The coalition also acknowledged the important role played by the informal waste pickers and recyclers, as well as concerned organizations like the Tzu Chi Foundation, for continually making the garbage situation in cemeteries less problematic, by ensuring that reusable and recyclable materials do not end up as wastes and pollutants.

“We hope to see the informal waste workers taking up more important and professional roles in solid waste management in cemeteries in years to come, knowing full well their competencies in this area,” stressed Vergara.

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