Plastic pollution continues to be a significant issue in the country, La Union is no exception.
To address this environmental concern, the province was chosen as a beneficiary of the project dubbed as "Plastic Recovery and Recycling for the Clean Coasts" of Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI) with funding from the Coca-Cola Foundation.
Diane E. Jutba, environmental management specialist of the Provincial Government of La Union, said the project, which will be implemented for 22 months ending in November 2022, has a total cost of $148,247.85.
But what exactly is the project all about?
On July 15, the Provincial Government of La Union, along with other private and public partners, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the project proponent JVOFI for the Plastic Recovery and Recycling for the Clean Coasts Project.
The undertaking will cover coastal communities of San Fernando City and the municipalities of Bauang and San Juan.
“It is a two-year period project which aims to reduce plastic pollution through the collective participation of community stakeholders in the sustainable management of plastic wastes,” Jutba informs.
The three adjacent local government units (LGUs) of the province were targeted as they were identified to be rapidly urbanizing because of the influx of tourists to its beaches and the presence of issues on waste management.
In particular, a total of 39 coastal barangays are targeted: five barangays in San Juan, 20 in Bauang, and 14 in the lone city of San Fernando.
“These LGUs have good practices and initiatives on environmental and waste-related programs and activities, but there are still room for improvement and some issues which are hoped to be resolved through this project” Jutba said.
Primarily, the goal is to reduce plastic pollution in the said areas through the collective participation of community stakeholders in the sustainable management of plastic waste.
Jutba said there are three objectives of the project: increase public awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on marine resources; increase capacity and effective governance of Solid Waste Management (SWM) and recycling systems through enhanced multi-stakeholder alliances to strengthen program collaboration, impact, and sustainability; and support behavioral change and development, implementation, and enforcement of improved policies and regulations around SWM and the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle).
“It’s really going to be multisectoral because winning the challenges brought about by plastic pollution needs the cooperation of all,” Jutba said.
Hence, the MOA was also entered into by the following: Municipal Government of Bauang, Municipal Government of San Juan; Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau-Region 1; Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office - La Union; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; Department of Science and Technology-Region 1; Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University; Saint Louis College; Lupon ng mga Indibidwal na Nangangalaga ng Kalikasan, Inc.; San Juan Resort, Restaurant, Hotel Association, Inc.; La Union Hotel Resorts and Restaurant Association; Bauang Resorts, Restaurant and Hotel Association, Inc.; Dragon Eight Junkshop; and Sto. Nino Junkshop.
The agreement spells out the specific actions to be undertaken mainly on the conduct of different Information, Education and Communication activities such as stakeholders’ forum and trainings on SWM, environmental protection, financial literacy, and leadership.
Also allotted in the project cost is the purchase of various equipment for efficient recycling namely baling machine, cyclone wire mesh bins, water tanks and basins, and shredders.
Specifically, the baling machine will be very useful in organizing cleaned and sorted bottles that will be delivered to buyers at 100 kilos per bundle.
The fabricated cyclone wire mesh bins will be positioned in strategic areas along the coastal barangays for the PET bottles used by visitors or community members who are within the vicinity.
Further, the 2,000-liter water tanks and basins will be provided to designated Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) for the cleaning of sorted PET bottles before baling and delivery to buyers.
And lastly, each people's organization managing the designated MRFs in the LGU will be provided with shredders.
Jutba said the Provincial Government of La Union continues to provide proactive steps towards cleaner living habits in line with its #KalikasanNaman campaign.
“The province continues to sustain the wonders and beauty of our natural habitat for the sake of our future generations,” she said. (JCR/AMB/JNPD, PIA La Union)