Korea, US boost waste management efforts to save Manila Bay

The Manila Bay
The Manila BayPhoto from DENR Facebook page

REPRESENTATIVES from the government of Korea, Philippines, and the United States gathered in Paranaque City on Thursday, February 22, 2024, to support the expansion of an initiative promoting sustainable waste management and environmental conservation efforts in Metro Manila.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) and United States Agency for International Development (USAud) announced their support to open additional “Eco-Ikot Centers” started by the nonprofit organization Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (Cora) Philippines in Barangay San Isidro, Parañaque City.

Through a circular economy waste management system, the Eco-Ikot Center incentivizes communities to exchange clean, dry, and segregated recyclables for points, redeemable for various sustainable goods and rewards.

The "Manila Bay Community Waste Segregation and Collection Facility" project will establish additional Eco-Ikot Centers in Parañaque and Manila cities to improve solid waste management, reduce landfill dependency, and mitigate pollution in Manila Bay and its surrounding areas.

This initiative is part of the ongoing, five-year US$8.2 million “Enhancement of Marine Litter Management in Manila Bay (EMLM) Project” being implemented by Koica, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and USAid.

"Korea recognizes that plastic waste and marine litter are global concerns that must be collectively addressed by all nations. With the Philippines being most threatened by waste in the coastal environment, it is our shared responsibility to support local efforts on marine pollution reduction and prevention. Koica’s activities on protecting the environment is intensified this year as we celebrate the 75 years of Philippines-Korea diplomatic relations and the 30th anniversary of Koica in the Philippines. We are excited to work with USAid, Cora, and other partners in establishing waste management facilities that will help prevent and reduce marine pollution in Manila and its surrounding communities,” Koica Country Director Kim Eunsub said.

“USAid is excited to join our partners from Koica and Cora in opening additional Eco-Ikot Centers in other areas near Manila Bay,” USAid Deputy Assistant Administrator Sara Borodin said. “These new facilities will boost our efforts to recover and divert clean, dry, and segregated solid waste management from going into the ocean and promote 3R - reduce,reuse, recycle - practices in communities.”

"We are thrilled to share the success of the Eco-Ikot Center, which we will be replicating in key areas of Metro Manila through the incredible support of our partners at Koica and USAid," Cora Philippines Founder and Executive Director Antoinette Taus said.

Taus said the Eco-Ikot Center, aimed at enhancing marine litter management in Manila Bay, is a testament to the power of partnership and innovation in addressing pressing environmental challenges.

"This initiative underscores our shared commitment to environmental sustainability and community empowerment. By working together, we can create lasting positive change and build a better future for generations to come," Taus added.

Since the Eco-Ikot Center's launch in 2022, Cora has diverted over 50,000 kilograms of recyclables, prevented unsegregated waste transfer to landfills, empowered women as leaders in waste management, and fostered partnerships with businesses to achieve Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) targets.

The initiative has also influenced and engaged the public and private sectors to implement policy changes and ethical procurement practices.

The success of the operation of the Eco-Ikot Center is also attributed to a robust Public-Private Partnership (PPP), including the local government of Parañaque City, the materials recovery facility (MRF), the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), and the DENR.

Replicating success, empowering women

One of the key features of the Eco-Ikot Center is empowering women in the communities as "circular center women champions" and equipping them with specialized training on waste management, business, and sustainable practices such as composting, urban gardening, and renewable energy.

"We believe in the power of women to lead sustainable growth and development in their communities, and our Eco-Ikot Women Champions are a testament to this," Taus added.

The project will also mobilize and engage public and private schools and youth groups in educational campaigns, clean-up projects, and recycling programs.

Data from the government in 2023 showed that the Philippines generates an estimated 61,000 metric tons of waste daily, of which 24 percent is plastic waste. (PR)


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