Now that classes are in full swing, an environmental advocacy group wasted no time to prod school administrators to strengthen current efforts promoting ecological solid waste management (ESWM) in the school system.
Through a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school principals, as well as the faculty, non-academic personnel, students and parents, to work together in improving ESWM programs to cut the volume and toxicity of discards generated by country’s schools.
“The resumption of classes provides a very good opportunity to renew interest and support for school-oriented ESWM principles and practices,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We hope that our school principals will utilize this opportunity to improve existing ESWM programs and further enhance the participation of students as well as the teaching and non-teaching staff,” he said.
“Our principals can surely tap the student governments, faculty clubs and the Parent-Teacher Associations for broadly-supported ESWM initiatives,” he further said.
The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that Department Order 5, Series of 2014, issued by the Department of Education provides for the “Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Gulayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management and Tree Planting Under the National Greening Program (NGP).”
According to the said guidelines, “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action among the students.”
Among the activities to be conducted in schools as per D.O. 5 include:
- Prohibition of littering and burning of wastes;
- Avoidance of single-use disposable products and packaging materials such as plastic bags, straws, spoons, forks and paper cups and plates;
- Promotion of trash-free “baon”;
- Establishment of composting system to process biodegradable wastes;
- Use of recyclables as seed beds in the nursery or garden;
- Use of reusable food containers in school canteens;
- Avoidance of consumables such as bottled water, coffee, sugar and creamer in sachets in events and meetings.
D.O. 5 also calls for the designation of an area within the school as a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
The MRF can serve as a storage area for discards that can still be repaired and reused, as a collection area for different recyclables such as bottles, cans and plastic containers, and as a temporary place for keeping residual trash such as non-recyclable and non-compostable discards.
D.O 5 further provides for the appointment of a school representative to the Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee in the barangay where the school is located.
“We hope that Education Secretary Leonor Briones will give D.O. 5 a shot in the arm by issuing a circular reiterating its importance and the need for its full implementation,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.