McArthur Highway, Valenzuela City
January is observed as the “Zero Waste Month” and the streets of Metro Manila are strewn with garbage following the New Year revelry.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and toxic watch group, drew attention to this ironical situation as piles of “holitrash” (holiday + trash) greet residents of the bustling metropolis on the first day of 2018.
The group took photos of mixed garbage comprised of food waste, beverage and food containers, paper and plastic packaging, remnants of firecrackers and fireworks, and discards from the customary end of year cleaning such as busted lamps and other unwanted stuff left abandoned in the streets and market areas of Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Quezon and Valenzuela Cities.
“The blanket disposal of all sorts of discards from the lively celebrations, including useful materials that should have been reused, recycled or composted, is deplorable. Waste isn’t ‘waste’ until it’s wasted,” commented Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Waste becomes a threat to public health and the environment if it is not properly sorted out and managed in a safe manner that will not contaminate the surroundings, particularly the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our sources of food, including the rivers and the oceans,” he said.
According to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, Metro Manila generates about 9,213 tons of garbage per day of which 52 percent are biodegradables, 41 percent recyclables and 7 percent residuals. The national waste generation is estimated at 40,087 tons per day.
“Garbage trucks and dumps should not be bursting at the seams if we consume responsibly and if we keep discards separated so that the biodegradable fraction is composted or fed to animals and the non-biodegradable fraction is returned to the factories for recycling,” Alejandre pointed out.
“It is possible to further cut the percentage of residuals if companies will take responsibility for products and packaging materials that are difficult to recycle such as sachet packaging,” he added.
As the Zero Waste Month is commemorated, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to national and local authorities, factories, commercial establishments and the general public to take action to proactively prevent and reduce the generation of waste in January and throughout 2018.
The group specifically requested the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the concerned parishes to incorporate waste avoidance and minimization in the observance of the popular feasts of the Black Nazarene and the Santo Niño this January across the country.
“The churches and the faithful should aim for an eco-friendly and litter-free celebration of the feasts of the revered image of the Black Nazarene, particularly in Quiapo, and the grand festivals in honor of the Child Jesus such as the Sinulog in Cebu, Dinagyang in Iloilo, Ati-atihan in Kalibo, Buling-Buling in Pandacan, and Lakbayaw in Tondo,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
As per Proclamation No. 760 issued by then President Benigno S. Aquino III, every January is observed as Zero Waste Month “to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use."
According to Section 48 of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same,” is prohibited and punishable.”