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Friday, November 16, 2018

Hidalgo: A perennial problem - garbage disposal

THE recent Typhoon Domeng was an eye-opener for all of us.

Metro Manila and neighboring provinces were flooded. The residents had to walk through the roads with waist-deep flood waters.

Over TV we were watching how all flood control agencies were busy removing the garbage, tons of these, from the collecting canals to bring the water to the sea. This is the clear sign that residents in these areas were throwing their garbage improperly.

The right to a healthy and productive environment is not matched by a corresponding sense of responsibility among us, the Filipinos. Such undesirable behavior as our improper disposal of domestic garbage is a pathetic lack of environmental consciousness and responsibility. This cannot go on forever. We can do something about it to make a better life for ourselves and our children.

As a concerned environmentalist, I had spent years of my life writing on the possible, meaning doable, and measures to solve the problem of garbage disposal. The waste materials have to be classified and given the correct procedures for their disposal.

The two main groups of garbage are the biodegradable and non-biodegradable types. The biodegradable is no problem because handled properly they can be recycled as fertilizers for plants since they contain elements like carbon dioxide and oxygen. The non-biodegradable toxic wastes are the plastics, paints, rubber, solvents, septic tank, sludges, expired medicines, batteries, pesticides, and cleaning fluids. These are brought to the dumpsites and burned.

Burning plastics release hydrochloric acid which is harmful to the lungs. The toxic lead released by burning toys, tins, batteries, some school supplies for students’ use can cause fatigue, headache, convulsions, cerebral palsy, blindness and mental retardation. The agency to check the presence of lead is vigilant to stop these damages.

Discipline of the populace is the sure means to solve the problem. Let us start from the source, meaning every home and office, school and business center.

Each of these must segregate their garbage and place them in labeled containers. These are the biodegradable meaning “nabubulok” in Tagalog. This is useful. The non-biodegrable or “di-nabubulok” are further classified into newspapers and other clean used papers and cardboards for reuse in paper manufacturing firms. The third classes are reusable objects like bottles, tin cans, plastic containers, and the like. These are sold to the junk stores which sell them for a price.

If these segregations are done from the sources mentioned that will solve the problems. The residue after this is the part which is brought to the dump site obviously much lesser. These are regulated by local officials for proper construction seeing to it that the leachate, the juice coming from toxic waste will not seep into the farms nearby. They are penalized for such offense.

There is money in garbage is evident when junk shops buy the segregated wastes. They clean the objects for reuse. Here comes - refuse, reuse and recycle.

Special disposal rules are given to hospital wastes. By its nature, it is given to DOH for proper disposal.

For the biodegradable wastes one easy reuse process is digging a spot in your yard. Place all the kitchen wastes here, dead rotting plants, foods' remains then cover this later with soil, mix it with non-toxic bacteria; the whole mass is turned into fertilizers which you can use. You can construct a biogas chamber in your home. All the wastes from pig and human manures are siphoned into the chamber then the methane gas produced is the best pure source of heat which can be used in your kitchen stoves.

I read an interesting useful treatment of wastes done with ashes from burning after a fire in a locality, the ashes are collected and mixed with cement materials then made into bricks to pave the streets.

I saw empty bottles sealed and tied together to serve as floats for a raft. I even saw a house with walls made up of empty bottles to create a unique architectural design.

Assorted refuse basura objects are used to make decors as flower vases, lampshades, ash trays. As they say garbage is a resource which has not found its greatest value yet.

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