LEADING environmentalist from the EcoWaste Coalition asked President Rodrigo Duterte to emphasize ecological solutions to the waste and pollution problems afflicting the country during his third State of the Nation Address tomorrow.
“We hope the President will use the SONA to rally the whole nation in embracing proven waste prevention and reduction strategies, including waste segregation at source, reusing, recycling and composting, to tame the ballooning national production of garbage estimated at over 40,000 tons per day,” said Daniel Alejandre, the Coalition’s Zero Waste Campaigner.
“Now is the time for the President to direct national government agencies and local government units to actively implement R.A. 9003 through the replication of best practices in ecological discards management and the strict enforcement of prohibited acts such as the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials, littering, open dumping, open burning, and waste incineration,” he said.
R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, requires a comprehensive and ecological approach to managing municipal solid waste via waste prevention, reduction, source separation, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding waste incineration.
On the other hand, EcoWaste Coalition Anti-Incinerator Campaigner Ruel Cabile appealed to Duterte to reconsider his stance as regards the establishment of waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration plants for burning discards.
“Burning discards in WtE facilities will only worsen the country’s garbage situation as this quick-fix ‘solution’ will only encourage reckless consumption and throw-away attitude and lead to the release of by-product pollutants of combustion such as dioxins and other environmental contaminants. What our communities need are functional materials recovery facilities and clean recycling factories rather than waste burners,” he said.
Meanwhile, EcoWaste Coalition Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon expressed hope that Duterte will back progressive policies and measures that will protect public health and the environment against hazardous chemicals, products and wastes.
“We expect the chief executive to also weigh in on the need to protect our people against health and environmental harms caused by chemical exposure and the need for companies to shift to clean production and to make those polluting the ecosystems pay,” he said.
Dizon, at the same time, asked the Duterte government to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury and implement mercury pollution prevention measures, including making the dormant US$1.37 million mercury lamp waste recycling facility operational in 2018.
As this developed, EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero said “It is also high time for the President to make his voice heard regarding the plastic and chemical pollution that is making our oceans dirty and sick. We hope he will declare the ban on single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws and stirrers, as well as the ban on microplastics in cosmetics, as a government priority to curb the plastic and chemical assault on our oceans and the food supply.”
Lucero also pressed President Duterte to, once and for all, declare in his SONA the return of the illegal garbage shipments from Canada and the tightening of laws and regulations to prevent foreign waste dumping, including banning waste imports and ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which seeks to protect developing countries from becoming dumping grounds for waste, including toxic and hazardous wastes, from developed countries.