“That waste is a ‘resource’ to counter the impression of waste as rubbish in the normal course of life. The potential of reduced costs, increased profits, and reduced environmental impacts are found when returning these “residual products” or “resources” as food to either natural and industrial systems.”
“To eliminate garbage air and water pollution, we need the three(3) I’s: Information, innovation and investments.”
The foregoing statements were from Dr. Neric Acosta and Ruth P. Briones, the two (2) convenors of the Zero Waste Philippines’ Project during its launching in Manila which was attended by representatives from provinces, towns and cities nationwide.
Acosta recalled that as a Representative, as the principal sponsor of the Ecological Solid Waste Management bill, he was defending it against all kinds of arguments. He remembered Rep. (now Senator) Joker Arroyo making the point that they should solve the problem of jobs first before the problem of pollution. Acosta countered by saying, 'Aanhin naman po ang pera kung patay na ang ilog?' What need do we have of money if the river is dead? As in fact, the Pasig River that runs through Metro Manila is dying; at low tide, the Pasig flows out of Laguna Lake which is dying from pollution by waste coming from homes, farms, factories and other establishments; at high tide, the Pasig flows out of polluted Manila Bay into Laguna Lake. As in fact the Philippines has the most polluted river in the world, the Marilao-Meycauyan-Obando (MMO) river system. The MMO is 55 kilometers long and actually runs through the cities and towns of Caloocan, Valenzuela and Malabon in Metro Manila and San Jose Del Monte, Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Santa Maria in Bulacan (thegreenmilesrun.ph) - and drains into Manila Bay.
Briones, for her part said that successful implementation of zero waste plan will eliminate all discharges to land, water, or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health. And that Zero waste is a whole system approach that aims to eliminate rather than ‘manage’ waste. She added that with the right technology coupled with appropriate funding, the proposed Zero Waste Project strategies will cover turnkey environmental management solutions with multiple waste streams at multiple levels in order to reduce costs, increase recycled waste, and bring operations to “zero waste” status.
With Information, the exact volume of how much waste is produce on a daily basis and the right intervention will be known with determination of the volume to be recycled is important.' Acosta said. This is the 'knowledge base from which systems of intervention can flow out of.' If we don´t know anything, we cannot do anything.
With Innovations - 'The systems of intervention are the innovations, the range of technological mechanisms, approaches that can be taken to manage the waste,' Acosta said. That includes the hardware (technologies) and software (management). Frank H says this is Science (the maker of the reducer of refuse) coming to the rescue of Science (the maker of refuse).
And with Investments - These comprise 'how much money we can put into those innovations' as interventions, which consider the cost and returns, Acosta said. “Which all brings us back to the need for a paradigm shift.”, he added.
Acosta said that while the 3 I´s are simple enough and doable even for all those 1,700 local government units, towns and cities, the LGUs will not able to move a single ton of waste towards the proper management of it if there is no paradigm shift, meaning to say, if the Mayor has not yet arrived at an awareness and a full grasp of the whole environment. 'Is the Mayor green-minded?' he asked. Is he green-minded enough? 'Does he understand that these are not only environmental issues but instead are fundamental issues that have to do with our very survival (on Planet Earth)?' “Even if the Mayor understands the law, the policy, Acosta said, if the Mayor does not have a whole green paradigm, if he does not understand that 'economics ay kaakibat ng ecological imperatives' (literally, 'allied with'), he is not going anywhere. One is the basis of the other.
Paradigm shift: You cannot have economics without ecology, Acosta said. 'In the end, economy and ecology come from the same root word, oikos, household. The most basic economic unit is the household. Economics: domestic home. Ecology: planet home.' The most basic ecological unit for us is Planet Earth. This is home for all of us. We must take care of it.
Dr. Neric Acosta is a former Philippine Congressman who authored the country’s milestone environmental laws, the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Waste Management Act. Meanwhile, Ruth P. Briones is the Chair of Greenergy Solutions Inc. an international renewable energy company based in the Philippines. (www.greenergyph.com)