PH faces waste crisis amid pandemic

World Vision Development Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition jointly launched PHINLA (Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka) waste management program to support local government units in managing waste and derive income from waste.

PHINLA global program project coordinator Joben Asuncion
The partnership aims to raise public awareness in addressing challenges brought about by unchecked and wanton disregard on proper waste disposal.

In the second year of the pandemic and after two major lockdowns, the Philippines faces a waste disposal crisis with 23.61 million tons of waste.

“With total lockdowns and the closure of majority of business establishments in the country to enforce physical distancing, there was a surge in demand for home delivery services of food and groceries, which has led to an increase in the generation of common packaging plastic wastes. Due to reduced recycling activities as a result of coronavirus outbreak, management and handling of plastic waste has become a huge challenge for the waste management particularly in our communities,” said PHINLA global program project coordinator Joben Asuncion at the Earth Day forum organized by World Vision.

The Philippines is one of the world’s leading waste contributors, as it generates 15 million tons of wastes each year. This figure does not yet reflect the waste generated during the pandemic.

EcoWaste Coalition Rey Palacio cited a National Solid Waste Management statistics report covering  2008 and 2018, stating that each Filipino generated on an average 0.40 kilograms of wastes per day.

"And based on this computation and the annual projected population, the Environmental Management Bureau computed a steady increase in waste generation from 13.48 million tons per year in 2008 and in 2020, it will reach 16.62 million tons. But recent data from the EMB showed that in 2020, the country actually disposed tons of garbage, and that is more than 4.8 million tons more than what was originally projected in the status report," he said.

He said the sudden increase in generated waste in 2020 was due to a paradigm shift in the form of waste generated. This is partly due to the increase in medical waste especially one-time use personal protective equipment, face masks and face shields, on top of many other disposable sanitary products like alcohol bottles and wet tissues or wet wipes.

According to the same study, the country by September 2020 had an estimated disposal of 48 billion pieces of face masks, representing 196 times more than 353.03 tons per day of medical wastes.

“We believe that the number one issue is the poor implementation of Republic Act 9003. There is also the lack of participation in the LGU solid waste management programs by community members, and there is a continued production of non-environmentally acceptable products by manufacturers, the increased use of single use plastic to alarming levels during the pandemic, and of course the impact of pandemic restrictions on waste management activities,” Palacio said.

With these concerns, PHINLA carries out a series of advocacy campaigns among household members, LGU officials, waste collectors and students across the country as part of the project’s aim to assist LGUs and other stakeholders to improve waste management systems, bring livelihood opportunities to waste collectors and raise the public’s active involvement to address the waste problem in the communities.

“Through waste management education, innovation, and adherence to our commitments, we can make the necessary changes to protect our planet,” Asuncion said.

Part of the campaign is the assistance given to LGUs and barangays to develop distinct solid waste management plans. PHINLA is introducing the concept of waste bank and capacity building activities for targeted barangays which were piloted in Quezon City, Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City.

“We assist our beneficiary barangays in setting up effective ecological solid waste management system at the local level. We also provide tools and equipment and assistance in terms of the production of information materials, awareness materials and the conduct of information, education and communication campaigns we also do mentoring and provide other technical assistance that might be needed by the Barangay LGU,” Palacio said.

Both World Vision and the EcoWaste Coalition believe that the lingering waste management concerns require intensified education campaigns to raise the public’s understanding that everyone has a role in solving waste management problems.

“Education is the key to success and it opens opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a progressive, healthy and sustainable society. The effects are already visible and will be catastrophic unless we act now,” Asuncion said.

PHINLA is set to carry out series of training activities for waste collectors, LGUs household members and students this year. More units of pedicabs and motorbikes will also be donated to partner LGUs.


Topics: World Vision , EcoWaste , PHINLA , training
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