EcoWaste Coalition Urges DENR to Review Implementation of National Framework Plan for the Informal Sector in Solid Waste Management (Group urges government to address needs of the informal waste sector amid the COVID-19 outbreak)

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free society, has requested the government to conduct an implementation review of a framework plan that is meant to alleviate poverty in the informal waste sector (IWS).

Through a letter e-mailed last Monday to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, concurrent chairperson of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), the group pushed for a rapid review of how the "National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management" has been implemented since it was adopted by the commission in 2010.

"We propose a critical review of the Framework Plan 10 years after it was adopted in the hope of identifying responsive measures that will address the needs of the IWS amid the still unfolding coronavirus pandemic," said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

"The improvement of the working and living conditions of the IWS, a crucial sector in the country’s  climate mitigation and sustainable development strategy, should be part of the post-COVID ‘better normal’ that we are aspiring for," she emphasized.

The group proposed three activities to be undertaken with stakeholders’ participation: a rapid assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the IWS, a rapid review of the Framework Plan’s implementation, and a rapid upgrading of the said plan based on the analysis of post-COVID needs of the IWS.

The group underscored the need to conduct the above activities in a rapid manner "as members of the IWS are in dire straits following extended work stoppage due to the COVID-19 public health emergency." 

“Among the worst affected are persons at the bottom of the IWS recycling hierarchy, the waste reclaimers, who are already living in extreme poverty even before the pandemic,” said Sison.

As defined in the Framework Plan, the IWS includes "individuals, families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials either on a full-time or part-time basis with revenue generation as the motivation."

Among those that make up the IWS are the Itinerant waste buyers, paleros (garbage trucks crew), ‘jumpers’ (those who jump into collection trucks to recover recyclables), small junk shop dealers, waste pickers in dumpsites and communal waste collection points, informal waste collectors,  and waste reclaimers.

The NSWMC adopted the Framework Plan via Resolution No. 47, series of 2010.

According to the resolution, "the Framework Plan hopes to empower the informal waste sector that is recognized as a partner of the public and private institutions, organizations and corporations in the promotion and implementation of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) of solid waste management in the Philippines with the end in view of alleviating poverty."

The requested implementation review of the Framework Plan, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, should generate critical information as to how the following interventions have been addressed so far:

1.  What has been achieved to support waste reclaimers in entering new service roles in waste collection and recycling?

2.  What has been done to assure access by waste reclaimers to sorting space at waste transfer stations and landfills?

3.  What has been carried out to support better market leverage for the IWS?

4.  What has been done to facilitate communication and dialogue between the IWS and the formal stakeholders to support the mainstreaming of the former in the formal waste management?

5.  What has been undertaken to promote occupational safety and health among the IWS?