Waste management should not take a backseat during the pandemic but instead be prioritized to prevent the spread of diseases, said. Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
“We all know that a clean environment is a healthy environment. Improperly disposed wastes can cause infection and contamination. So, we should take proper waste disposal and management even more seriously,” she said.
The World Health Organization said if solid waste is not dealt with quickly, serious health risks will develop which will further demoralize the community already traumatized by the emergency.
Villar also cited an advisory from the International Solid Waste Association, which said that “Waste Management is one of the most important sanitary barriers to prevent dissemination of illnesses and diseases.”
Villar noted that recycling of recyclable wastes can also help manage the amount of wastes accumulated even during community quarantine. She said experts themselves cite that continuity of recycling efforts is important during and after the pandemic.
“Proper waste management becomes even more crucial now during quarantine or lockdown because some waste collection services are discontinued or disrupted. But the amount of wastes produced continues to increase,” cited Villar, who has established 3,000 livelihood projects nationwide, which help process solid wastes by using them as raw materials.
These are water hyacinths for the waterlily handicraft-weaving enterprise and the handmade paper factory; waste coconut husks for the coconet-weaving enterprise and the charcoal-making factory; kitchen and garden wastes for the organic fertilizer composting facility; and plastic wastes for the waste plastic recycling factory that produces school chairs.
The coconet weaving enterprises turn waste coconut husks into coconets, organic fertilizers and charcoal briquettes out of them. The workers using a decorticating machine can extract fiber and coco peat from the husks which are used for making coconet. The coco dusts are mixed with household wastes to make organic fertilizers that are distributed for free to farmers and urban gardeners. A decorticating machine can extract fiber and dust from up to 8,000 waste coconut husks daily.
Villar also facilitated the establishment of composting centers in barangays to collect kitchen and garden wastes in the households to be brought to the composting facility. It now has 80 composters utilized by 80,000 households.
She also addressed the worsening problem of plastic pollution by recycling plastic wastes. The Philippines, based on a University of Georgia study, ranked third, next to China and Indonesia (among 192 countries surveyed), in terms of volume of plastic wastes produced by the population.
The senator, through Villar SIPAG, put up a Waste Plastic Recycling Factory in 2013 in Barangay Ilaya, Las Pinas City. It converts waste plastics into chairs, which is the solution to another perennial problem—lack of school chairs. One school chair can be produced out of 20 kilos of waste plastics such as sachets and wrappers. Since 2013, the Las Pinas factory has produced over 30,000 chairs. Two more plastic factories are built in San Miguel, Iloilo and Cagayan De Oro City to cover the Visayas and Mindanao regions.