To prevent campaign tarpaulins from ending in dumps, the EcoWaste Coalition today received from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) some 250 pieces of seized poll materials that will be repurposed into useful items.
At a simple ceremony held at the agency's headquarters, MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez and MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group Francis Martinez turned over the tarpaulins to the environmental watchdog group, which is working with the government to promote “Basura-Free Elections.”
The tarpaulins were among the truckloads of illegal campaign materials removed by the MMDA from foot bridges, lamp posts, cable wires and trees following the launch of the “Operation Baklas” last February 9.
“The seized campaign materials are valuable resources that should be put to good use,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, who also acknowledged the MMDA's ongoing efforts to take down unlawful poll publicity materials without fear or favor.
“It will be such a huge waste if these illegal election paraphernalia are buried in landfills. We can and we should find appropriate uses for them,” she said.
For example, tarpaulins can be repurposed into coin purses, pouch bags, grocery bags and beach bags.
Tarpaulins can also be sewn into mail and shoe organizers, worker’s aprons, tool belts, laundry baskets and even as receptacles for office or household recyclables.
The EcoWaste Coalition will collaborate with community-based organizations in making prototypes that can inspire others to reuse and recycle election campaign tarpaulins.
Lucero was quick to point out that tarpaulins cannot be repurposed for certain applications that could contaminate food or expose young children to chemicals of concern such as cadmium and lead.
“Reusing and recycling tarpaulins would have been easier and less complicated if they do not contain toxic chemicals that are bad for human health and the environment,” she said.
Before sending the tarpaulins to partner groups for repurposing, the EcoWaste Coalition will first screen them for toxic metals through a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
“We’ll use the chemical data to be generated to push for a regulation that will restrict, if not eliminate, toxic additives in plastic tarpaulins,” Lucero said.
“Removing such toxic additives is necessary to make tarpaulins easily reusable and recyclable and less a threat to public health and the ecosystems,” she emphasized.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the Green Thumb Coalition, works to draw attention and action on chemicals and wastes as important electoral issues that candidates and voters should be concerned about..