DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Environment groups in Davao hail the city government for heeding their calls to ban single-use plastic and implement a zero waste management policy in place to the city’s garbage incineration project.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio recently certified the city council’s proposed Single-Use Plastic Ban Ordinance as urgent, saying this will lessen the volume of waste in the city’s landfill. The ordinance has been delayed for over a year.
The environment groups Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) and the Break Free from Plastic welcomed the move of the mayor in time with the culmination of the Zero Waste Month Celebration last January.
“(The) Mayor’s statement is also very timely as we culminate the Zero Waste Month (January) Celebration. We call on fellow Davaoeños also rethink and shift to a more sustainable lifestyle. This may cause inconvenience and or entail some sacrifices but let’s think of it as our contribution to better our beloved Davao,” said Attorney Mark Penalver, Executive Director of IDIS.
The groups are optimistic that the 19th city council will pass the proposed ordinance soon, since they had lobbied with the city government to cancel the waste incineration project and urged the mayor to divert the fund to support zero waste initiatives at the barangay level.
“We welcome this pronouncement by the Mayor and we urge the city council to pass this ordinance within the year, since plastic waste is increasing during the pandemic,” added Jill Banta, Regional Coordinator for Mindanao of Break Free From Plastic.
The proposed ordinance prohibits the use of plastic items such as plastic drinking cups (recyclable or non-recyclable), plastic condiments (sauce or gravy container), plastic cup lids or covers, plastic stirrers, plastic straw, plastic cutleries such as spoon, fork, knife or a combination, plastic meal packaging, plastic hand gloves, plastic materials used as buntings, and plastic material used as balloon stick (recyclable or non-recyclable).
This will regulate the selling and usage of SUPs, which IDIS said comprises a huge portion of the city’s daily waste collection which is currently an average of 570 to 600 metric tons of mixed residuals a day.
Delayed by the pandemic
The proposed ordinance had passed on first reading in 2019 and had a committee report ready culled from dialogues with stakeholders but was overtaken by the pandemic.
Councilor Diosdado Angelo Mahipus Jr., who chairs the Committee on Environment, told Davao Today that the proposed ordinance and “is just waiting for the signature of its committee members” to be presented in the plenary for second reading in the coming weeks.
Solid waste management
The City Government of Davao had already issued an executive order in 2012 banning the use of non-biodegradable plastics and polystyrene containers used for food and beverages, this after the city council passed the Davao City’s Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009 that mandates compulsory sorting of solid wastes and the establishment of barangay-based facilities for material recovery.
Penalver clarified that this 2012 executive order only prohibits the use of non-biodegradable plastics and Styrofoam in establishments but not the distribution of such materials.
He added that the proposed ordinance banning SUP compliments the 2009 ordinance, as this is measure for solid waste management in the city by “addressing the source of plastic pollution, i.e distributors, and/or manufacturers.”
“If we stop the source of SUPs, then we also address the looming issue of plastic pollution that threatens our environment. Besides, these are not essential products and there are already existing alternatives which are more sustainable” he added.
Local campaign for waste management
Local environment groups had long campaigned for better waste management measures, with groups such as Sustainable Davao Movement reiterating their call to the city government to cancel its waste to energy (WTE) project.
They call the P5 Billion WTE project a “false solution” and a “threat to public health and environment safety” to the problem of the city’s landfill in Carmen, Tugbok District reaching its tipping point.
“We face a double crisis of mismanagement of solid waste and climate emergency, and recognize Davao’s efforts in trying to address these issues. But we strongly oppose the adoption of waste incineration technologies (so-called “Waste-to-Energy” or WTE) and the passing of the Waste-to-Energy Bill in the Congress and Senate,” the movement said.
They also added that the project contradicts with the Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749) which prohibits incineration as it emits “toxins and poisonous fumes” and a need to source a minimum of 600 tons of waste a day.
The group also highlight the project will affect are the informal and formal sectors engaged in waste picking, recycling, and hauling “as wells as the numerous companies and groups who up-cycle, recycle, and compost.” (davaotoday.com)