Sanchez: Trash into cash

Nature speaks

I HAD been involved in ecological solid waste management in the last decade.

We advocated the adoption of the 3Rs (Reuse, Recycle, Reduce) in local governance. We also did a waste characterization project where we segregated into biodegradables and non-biodegradables.

While biodegradable waste was tops, non-biodegradables came out second, which later was further segregated into plastics and others.

Sando plastic bags topped the waste. That was partially solved with the passage of Bacólod City Ordinance No. 562 regulating the use, sale, and provision of plastic bags as packaging materials.

The Sanggunian amended its Section 3 which stated that business establishment dispensing single-use plastic bags including but not limited to fast food outlets, market vendors, shopping malls, food kiosks, sari-sari stores, hardware, groceries, pharmacies, and the like shall only provide biodegradable plastic if necessary or upon the customer’s request provides that it shall be with charge at the expense of the latter.

But a look at the downtown area toward early evening will show that the ordinance is practiced in the breach.

Where policy is insufficient, the market should take over. So far as plastics are concerned, it’s basically collect, transport, and dispose.

Last March, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran has requested Mayor Evelio Leonardia to reorganize the solid waste enforcement unit to monitor the illegal dumping of garbage in 61 barangays. “The solid waste enforcement unit will be tasked to penalize the violators in waste segregation in compliance of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.”

He has been saying that for years. And Bacoleños still get the same song-and-dance routine. Maybe he should proposed solutions that are out-of-the-box.

I would suggest that instead of the barangay captains, Familiaran should get entrepreneurs and engineering and vocational schools to join a Lakbay Aral study tour.

I suggest these waste stakeholders visit the Davao-based Envirotech Waste Recycling. The company collects plastic trash such as candy wrappers, shopping bags, plastic straws, shampoo sachets, junk food packaging and converts them into furniture and building materials.

The recycling company’s owner, Winchester Lemen, noticed that much plastic waste ends up in the landfill. So he decided to put up a recycling plant started collecting plastic waste from a nearby landfill.

His company has produced school chairs based on recycled plastic. Later Lemen expanded his product lines into floor tiles, bricks, planks, and pavers made out of 85-90% plastic waste.

With the construction boom in Bacólod, there is a market for these products. And waste pickers can be trained into skilled workers. Go for best practices that protect the environment while enabling the least of Bacoleños to earn decent incomes.


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