CALL it simple ingenuity but turning garbage into something useful does not only prove to be practical, but also very advantageous for the environment. Take for instance Davao-based Engineer Winchester Lemen, owner of the Winder Recycling Company, who invented a thermal heating technology to turn trash into chairs, tables, and benches.
In fact, since most of Lemen's production are school chairs, he is also contributing immense help in solving shortage of classroom furniture through his invention, which he regards as "a product of Philippine ingenuity to start reducing the number of plastic wastes in our country." Lemen said a single school chair is made up of 30 kilos of plastic or the equivalent of 10,000 candy wrappers or equal to 2,181 sando bags or 300 bottles of mineral water, which are common plastic wastes being dumped in landfills or in canals and waterways.
Similarly, plastics from households in the town of Basista in Pangasinan are turned into bags, tissue holders, pencil case, and other usable accessories woven by the women who attended the bag-making training by the Women's Brigade Tungtungin Putho from Los Banos in Laguna. Another notable recycling practice in this town is turning single-use plastic bags into eco-friendly bricks which are used in landscaping in the 16 elementary and high schools in the said town.
As early as 2007, one of the biggest chains of malls spearheaded the Waste Market Fair wherein shoppers and tenants are given the chance to exchange garbage and other waste materials into cash. A joint project of the SM Supermalls, the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, and the Philippine Business for the Environment, the Waste Market Fair makes it possible for one to transact business with recycling companies and exchange recyclable items for cash, while promoting the environmental advantages of recycling and proper waste disposal. Used materials such as paper scraps, cartons, newspapers, notebooks, and bond papers; used ink and toner cartridges, electronic wastes such old CPUs, keyboards, computer monitors, and other electronic appliances; used lead batteries for cars, trucks, UPS, and rechargeable lamps; used PET bottles and other plastic products; and aluminum and tin cans can be sold at the Waste Market Fair which is being conducted until now.
Similarly, it was in 2013 when local government units started banning the use of plastic bags with the aim of drastically decreasing our heavy reliance on these materials which directly contribute to pollution and other ecological problems such as global warming among others. The Quezon City government has implemented two ordinances that aim to regulate the use of plastic bags and establishing an environmental fee of P2.00 per bag and encourage customers to use reusable bags when shopping. Among the most notable efforts along this line is the town of Los Baños in Laguna where non-biodegradable materials such as plastic bag sheets are being made into durable building materials such as hollow blocks, corrugated roofing sheets and thick tiles. Mayor Caesar Perez has established the Los Baños Ecological Waste Processing Center (EWPC) which is now regarded as a model for solid waste management. Marikina, one of the other cities and towns making the same eco-friendly moves, has sought the passing of a resolution banning the use of plastic bags in its local market.
Here in Pampanga, the City of San Fernando is the one of the leading local government units which started implementing a ban on plastic bags through the Plastic-Free Ordinance, a series of city ordinances which were implemented starting on September 2014. It was in June 2015 when the total ban on the use of plastic bags as primary and secondary packaging materials has been implemented. The Plastic Bag and Styrofoam Ordinance of Angeles City has also been approved by the Angeles City Council to regulate the use and distribution of plastic bags and polystyrene foam in the city.
The Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 sets guidelines regarding waste reduction through composting, recycling, re-use, recovery and other processes before disposal in recovery and treatment facilities. The said law also ensures proper segregation, collection and disposal of solid waste.
While most LGUs have taken bold moves to implement this act, it is unfortunate that this law is being taken for granted in other parts of the country. It is high time that other LGUs follow suit, unless they want to be included in the list of towns which violate RA 9003 and incur raps filed by the Environmental Management Bureau or EMB. It is not enough that only a few or some of us properly manage our waste — it is a must that everybody contributes their own efforts in saving our environment for our sake, and for the sake of the next generation.