FIRST ZERO WASTE CAMPUS? SU dumped 400 trucks of garbage last year

Photo by Ric Canizares

SILLIMAN UNIVERSITY has pledged to be-come the first “ zero waste campus” by ap-proving a major document that will spell out how SU will exemplify the proper way of disposing their garbage without much damage to the environment.

Silliman University dumped more than 400 truckloads of unsegregated waste into the open dumpsite in Candau-ay, Dumaguete City, last year, contributing to the festering thousands of tons of garbage that tower 12 meters high, polluting the air and the land, and contaminating the groundwater and Banica River with toxic and germ-carrying liquid, according to Dr. Jorge Augustin Emmanuel, visiting scientist and adjunct professor at the SU Institute of Environment and Marine Science, who is instrumental in the drafting of the Policies.

He said a huge volume of the waste consists of plastic, a major source of ocean pollution and threat to marine life and human health.

In a firm resolve to lead in the zero waste management among school campuses, the Silliman Board of Trustees in a meeting on Nov. 17 voted to adopt the “Silliman University Environmental Principles and Policies,” an 11-page document that states the university’s commitment to the well-being of the environment and how it will be implemented.

The adoption of the Policies was announced by Silliman University President Betty C. McCann at the University Convocation last Nov. 19.

The statement declares the university’s commitment “to the prevention of environmental pollution, the conservation and enhancement of our natural resources, and sustainability.”

A centerpiece of the Policies is the Zero Waste program which was launched by the University last July. The Policies statement contains some 80 provisions calling for specific actions that would turn the university into the first Zero Waste campus in the country.

Zero Waste will apply to all of the university’s affairs—from administration to operations, from teaching, research and community outreach to the way it does business with suppliers and concessionaires—all geared toward conservation and reducing its solid waste to 10 per cent of its current load.

Zero Waste will test the will and commitment of middle-level officials in the university, who are assigned to enforce the Policies in their own academic and administrative units.

Emmanuel described the present environment -problem: “The environment crisis we face today is very much a product of how we have developed as a society. Since the industrial revolution, we have embraced a linear pattern of consumerism characterized by the extraction of natural resources, manufacture of products, disposal of waste, followed by more extraction, manufacture, and disposal ad infinitum, on the false assumptions that the earth’s resources are infinite and that land, sea and air are so vast that dumping our wastes would have no consequences. Now we know better.”

In an earlier announcement, McCann said, “Recognizing our calling to be stewards of God’s creation, we at Silliman University are committed to the prevention of environmental pollution, the conservation and enhancement of our natural resources, and sustainability.”

Under the Zero Waste program, priorities will be observed, “wherein waste prevention (source reduction) has the highest priority; followed by reuse; then recycling and composting; then recovery when done in a manner that protects the environment and does not undermine Zero Waste goals; and lastly, safe disposal as the lowest priority.” (By Celia E. Acedo, SU Research and Environment News)