DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Feb. 3 (PIA) -- Environmental groups in the city called on the city government to invest more on zero waste strategies and urged the public to practice waste segregation at source to improve the city’s waste management.
Officials from Ware on Wastes (WOW) Break Free from Plastics, Kahugpungan Para sa Kinaiyahan Inc., and Dumaguete Women Waste Workers Association made the call during a Kapihan sa PIA forum here recently.
Kinaiyahan President Gary Rosales explained that the goals of practicing zero waste strategies are to maximize recycling, minimize waste, reduce consumption, and ensure that products are made to be reused, repaired, recycled back into nature or in the market place.
Rosales cited that nearly 3/4 of the waste generated in the community can either be reused, recycled, and be composted.
He based this information from the data he gathered from five barangays in the city which have been observing zero-waste practices over the past years.
“The United Nations Environment Program, in their Green Economy Report in 2011, identified five major waste management strategies and the arranged this with prevention as the most preferred and disposal as the least referred. Clearly, we need to devote less energy and resources to waste disposal and allocate more to systems, designs, and technologies that would improve prevention, reduction, recycling, and recovery,” Rosales said.
Some of the zero-waste recommendations he raised include putting in place reuse, repair, and recycling mechanisms, designating spaces for composting and bio digesting, encouraging citizen participation especially in waste segregation at the source and investing on waste workers’ welfare, establishing Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in every barangay, and formulation of more enabling policies.
Rosales emphasized that when the local government decentralizes waste management and establishes MRFs in every barangay, it only collects the non-recyclable waste from the community, thus reducing the volume of collected waste.
Meanwhile, WOW Break free from Plastics Co-Convener Merci Ferrer reiterated that the local government has a big role in implementing zero-waste systems as it is responsible for investing in these systems.
“Investment in the city is a crucial one,” she said.
Environmental groups also underscored that implementing zero waste systems does not involve the use of a pyrolysis machine or any gasification machines.
They noted a big concern on the city’s use of a pyrolysis machine inside the city’s centralized MRF as it could harm human health and environment.
Scientist and former technical adviser to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Dr. Jorge Emmanuel said using a pyrolysis machine leads to emission of more greenhouse gases and release of toxins in air and in the ground, which can be absorbed by the plants and even herbivores consumed by humans.
“These technologies produced a wide range of toxic materials and importantly, the ash or slag, that comes out of it is also very toxic. There’s a wide range of toxic effects of these pollutants on people who are exposed to it chronically. In other words, you breathe this day after day for long, long periods and eventually, you’ll have problems like cancer and heart disease,” Jorge said.
With this, the environmental groups expressed their opposition against the city’s use of a pyrolysis machine, claiming also that it is unsafe and makes the city far from being a zero-waste city.
In response, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) Chief Engr. Chilvier Patrimonio said the city government bought a pyrolysis machine because their proposal then was approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Patrimonio added they have tried implementing zero waste systems before in several barangays.
However, these villages encountered problems and also sought the help of the city ENRO for the collection of voluminous waste.
Patrimonio said ENRO has embarked on a campaign to remind the public to segregate their waste at source and the “no-segregation, no collection” policy.
The ENRO chief said her office is open to working with experts for better management of the city’s waste problem.
"We are also asking the support of the experts unsa man gud ang best solusyon sa atong (what is the best solution) to our problem because our waste is voluminous,” Patrimonio said. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental)