Barrios to process own zero waste management tasks

Representatives from different environment groups in Dumaguete City together with the chief of the city’s Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) promote proper waste segregation and discuss interventions to address the city’s problem on plastic wastes during the Kapihan Forum on “Zero Waste and No to Plastics Drive” held on Jan. 16, 2019 at Bethel Guest House, Dumaguete City. Seated (l-r) are PIA - Negros Oriental GIC Coordinator Jennifer Tilos, BPI-Bayan Project Coordinator and Kinaiyahan President Gary Rosales, FENOr President Esther Windler, and Zero Waste Cities Project - Dumaguete Project Coordinator Meric Ferrer. (PIA7-NegOr)

In time with the observance of Zero Waste Month this January, representatives of environmental groups here called for the decentralization of  waste management systems at the barangay level and to practice proper waste segregation at source.

Zero Waste Cities Project Dumaguete Project Manager Merci Ferrer explained that bringing down waste management systems and processes to the barangay level is the essence of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

She believes this is the best approach to address the city’s garbage problem.

“The 30 barangays of our city should be working on a decentralized system. They should have more than one Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs). They should have waste collectors. They should be teaching our local households how to properly segregate malata (biodegradable), dili malata (non-biodegradable), special wastes, etc. It’s segregation at source,” Ferrer said.

MRFs pertain to waste collection centers or waste sorting centers that also process recyclable materials.

Under RA 9003, MRFs are required to facilitate composting of biodegradable wastes.

Ferrer suggested that big barangays can establish their own MRFs or other barangays can set up clustered MRFs.

She emphasized that the “no segregation, no collection” policy should be strictly imposed.

In a study done by Zero Waste Cities Project in selected cities all around the country, they found out that 61.26 percent of the total waste generated by households are biodegradable, while 19. 17 percent are non-biodegradable, 16.12 percent are residual, and 3.44 percent are special or hazardous wastes.

Last year, the Zero Waste Cities Project-Dumaguete formalized a partnership with barangays Lo-oc, Piapi, and Bantayan in adopting a comprehensive waste management system.

“By building cost-effective and small-scale MRFs, Bantayan and Lo-oc have diverted more than 60 percent of their waste from Candau-ay Dumpsite and our bodies of water,” Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, BPI-Bayan Project Coordinator and Kinaiyahan Inc. President Gary Rosales believes that achieving a zero-waste community is possible when there is political resolve in the part of barangay leaders to make their community a better place.

He said establishing zero-waste management systems need not be costly.

Rosales, who is also a member of Barangay Bantayan’s Ecological Solid Waste Management, shared during the Kapihan the 10-Step Zero-Waste Process that the barangay adopted.

The major steps implemented under the said process are the following: establishment of the Barangay Ecological Solid Waste Management (SMW) Committee; formulation of Barangay Ordinace and 10-Year SWM Plan; formulation of systems and schedules; establishment of the MRFs; complete Information, Education, and Communications (IEC); and monitoring and enforcement of penal provisions of the ordinance.

The journey of Barangay Bantayan to become a zero-waste community started in July 2018.

After four months, Rosales noted significant improvements in the village’s waste management.

“With five waste collection vehicles and seven waste collectors working three times a week, waste collected from households already dropped by 20 percent. What is amazing is the 92 percent drop in the volume of biodegradables surrendered by the households because the households themselves are now practicing composting,” he said.

Rosales added that the waste diversion rate or the percentage of waste that no longer goes to Candau-ay is at 70 percent.

Through the initiatives by the said barangays, the two representatives of environmental groups are hoping that other villages in the city will also follow and work towards a city-wide approach for a zero-waste city.

Meanwhile, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) Chief Engr. Chilvier Patrimonio said that in support to the zero-waste advocacy, her office regularly conducts IEC campaign per barangay and per households.

“We go to the heart of the people. We inform them. We educate them. We teach them how to do segregation and how to compose,” Patrimonio said.

She also noted that the flagship program of the city government is still the safe closure and rehabilitation of the city dumpsite and establishment of a sanitary landfill.  (Roi Lomotan, PIA)