DENR’s Ecosavers Program

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By Rox Peña

E-ssue

Thursday, August 7, 2014


A FEW years ago, I was involved in a paper-recycling project in an exclusive school in Manila. There was a contest among the students on who can bring the biggest volume of old newspapers to school. The class with the biggest volume wins a trophy and a field trip to the paper-recycling mill.

The proceeds in the wastepaper drive runs to thousands of pesos, but all of it goes to the school’s charity work. Anyway, the students who mostly come from rich families aren’t interested in the few pesos that they can get in exchange for the scraps. But the contest is so tight that one student brought in a truckload of old newspapers to win.

Well, our public school students are not rich like their counterparts in exclusive schools but they can replicate this system on a smaller scale with them as the beneficiaries. The scheme is called the National Ecosavers Program (NEP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

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The NEP is a campaign launched in 2012 in a bid to reduce garbage being collected from schools and households through the establishment of an ecological solid waste recovery system in every school, which would allow students to exchange their recyclables and biodegradable waste for school supplies or even cash.

An incentive mechanism was created under the program where students are issued passbooks to record the credit points they earn from their recyclable and biodegradable materials. The recyclables are then pooled for final collection by accredited junk shops and recyclers.

Recently, the DENR has turned over to the Department of Education (DepEd) an initial 250,000 units of “Ecosavers Club Passbook” to be distributed to public elementary and high school students in Metro Manila who are taking part in the NEP. The program’s initial phase is being implemented in 783 government primary and secondary schools in the National Capital Region involving some 1.9 million students.

Prior to the distribution of official Ecosavers passbooks, the DepEd reported that schools implementing the NEP used improvised passbooks for their students. The improvised passbooks indicate the weight of each type of waste brought by the student and the corresponding points. The DENR, which had allotted P50 million for the initial implementation of the NEP, is targeting the distribution of one million passbooks within the year, and the remaining 900,000 by 2015.

Those who have not been issued Ecosavers Passbook can already run a waste exchange program. I a town in Rizal province for instance, a similar program is already in place. The municipal government of Tanay, Rizal has a program, called “Basura Mo, Palit Gamit Eskwela” that offers school supplies in exchange for recyclable materials. Empty bottles, tin cans, old newspapers can be traded for pencils, ball pens or notebooks through a point system.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 08, 2014.

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