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Monday, February 26, 2024

LGUs agree to address waste, water challenges

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Local government units (LGUs) are answering the call to provide safe water and sanitation infrastructure and address solid and plastic waste problems to promote sustainability.

Over 350 local government officials and stakeholders from across the country made the pledge during the Waste and Water (W2) Summit held on January 26, and agreed to explore the latest in water technology.

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga stressed the pressing problem of solid waste. She cited a report saying that the Philippines generates 61,000 metric tons of solid waste daily, 12 to 24 percent of which come from plastics.

The World Bank reported that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin-film bags daily. About 33 percent of the plastic products are disposed in landfills and dumpsites, while around 35 percent is leaked into the open environment and oceans.

LGUs in partnership with national government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the academe, private institutions agreed to draw up incentives to encourage waste segregation in households and ensure e-waste and disaster waste are part of the Solid Waste Management Plan.

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The W2 Summit is in support of the call of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for a clean environment and sustainable management of the country’s resources.

Stakeholders were urged to be proactive in finding which areas have water and those without, and explore the latest in water technology.

“The collaboration here is important. Let’s discuss the problem. This is why this summit is very important. Tell us about your problems and we will come up with a plan with the DENR,” said DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. in Filipino.

Loyzaga underscored the critical role of LGUs in the country’s push for sustainability and resilience, particularly in achieving the targets of the Philippine Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“A study estimates that 65 of the 169 sub-targets of our 17 SDGs will not be achieved without the engagement of our local and regional governments,” said Loyzaga.

She also stressed the need to develop and protect water sources, conduct water treatment effectively, distribute water efficiently and collect sufficient fees to sustain its management and operation.

“Water conservation is not implemented, more so if water is cheap relative to other household expenses such as electricity and mobile connectivity,” she said.

Loyzaga, meanwhile, said it was imperative to encourage the consumer sector to be more conscious of the plastic waste that it generates, and reiterated her call to the private sector, academe and the industry for the need to put research into the substitution of single-use plastic. 

“Until we find an affordable and equally functional material to single use plastic, we will not be able to eradicate its use. This also has a social impact on those that need this material to actually service their daily need,” said Loyzaga.

She added the DENR this year would assist in identifying suitable landfill sites from multiple LGUs to use. A nationwide campaign for recycling and other waste reduction methods will also be launched.

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