The implementation of ecological solid waste management, or ESWM, at the barangay level is essential if we are to prevent garbage from polluting water bodies, including marine protected areas in the province of Palawan.
This was the overriding message learned by over 50 participants from eight barangays of Puerto Princesa City who took part in a day-long training program on ESWM held today in Barangay Maruyugon. Two more training events covering 12 more barangays with 175 participants will be held on September 19 and 20 in Barangay Santa Monica and Napsan.
The training events are organized by Candis 3 Marketing Cooperative as part of a biodiversity conservation project that is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippine-American Fund (Phil-Am Fund).
The training program is held in collaboration with the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health group advocating for a zero waste and toxics-free society.
“We have gathered our community leaders in the hope of assisting them in identifying gaps as well as solutions in the way discards are currently managed by our barangays,” said Bonifacio Tobias, Project Manager for C3MC’s project on “Mitigating Threats to Marine Protected Areas through Reducing and Recycling Solid Waste Materials.”
“Through the strengthened implementation of ESWM at the barangay level, we hope to prevent garbage, particularly plastic waste, from being carelessly dumped into our rivers and seas and causing harm to the marine ecosystems,” he said.
For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, highlighted the relevance of the training event amid the plan to erect a waste-to-energy incineration facility in Barangay Sta. Lourdes where Puerto Princesa’s landfill is also sited.
“The energetic enforcement of ESWM at the barangay level will result to greater environmental awareness and responsibility among residents, and this will surely lead to decreased generation of garbage through enhanced segregation of waste materials at source, recycling and composting,” she said.
“With less amount of garbage being generated by households, institutions and business establishments, who will need a quick-fix incineration-based disposal technology?,” she asked.
Towards the effective implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management, resource person Rey Palacio of the EcoWaste Coalition underscored the need for barangays to constitute functional Barangay Solid Waste Management Committees and for them to have adequate Barangay Solid Waste Management Plans to achieve “zero waste”.
“Simply put, zero waste means materials get reused, recycled and composted instead of being thrown away, dumped, burned or wasted,” he said.
Small group discussions helped the participants to reflect on gaps in current waste management policies practices and to identify solutions that will avoid the generation of waste at the point of generation, while improving waste diversion.
Waste diversion, as defined in R.A. 9003, refer to activities that reduce or eliminate the amount of solid wastes sent to waste disposal facilities such as landfills and incinerators.
Activities contributing to higher percentage of waste diversion include segregation at source, “no segregation, no collection,” reusing, recycling, repurposing, composting, and other waste prevention and reduction regulations and techniques, including clean production, Palacio said.