Zero waste targeted in Santa Fe

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram April 11,2018 - 10:35 PM

Bantayan Island businessman Lyndon Tancinco.

With hands on his waist and a pile of garbage sitting in front of him, 51-year-old restaurateur Lyndon Tancino watched as two men, on board a motorcycle, approached him.

The motorcycle had a make-shift platform where two large pails stood.

It was the evening of Maundy Thursday and local and foreign tourists were still wandering around one of the busiest districts in Santa Fe town, Bantayan Island, northern Cebu.

As the two men disembarked from the motorcycle, they immediately took the pails and rushed to the mound of trash in front of Tancinco.

Like trained workers, their gloved-hands dived into the pile and began to segregate the mixed garbage. In about five minutes, the area was spic-and-span.

The garbage was segregated, compacted and pressed to fit into the two pails.

Biodegradable wastes such as the peelings of fruits and vegetables went into one pail; while non-biodegradable materials like plastic cups, straws and cellophanes were put in the other.

From the pocket of his apron, Tancinco fished out a disinfectant and sprayed the area.

He also splashed a bucket of deodorizer on the ground where the garbage stood just moments earlier.

Tancinco said the motorcycle would make a stop at a vacant lot which he owned with a material recovery facility (MRF).

The MRF includes compost pits and a shed where workers bury biodegradable garbage; while they offer the plastic pieces to people who may want to sell them.

“The biodegradable waste will be buried in the compost pits. I decided to just give away plastic pieces of garbage since some people, especially members of some senior citizen groups, collect them to earn some income,” explained Tancinco who has mastered ways of managing the loads of garbage from his restaurant business.

Tancinco owns ‘Chef Panyang’, a popular restaurant in Santa Fe which he named after his wife, Stephanie.

He has been in the restaurant business for 20 years.

Tancinco told Cebu Daily News, that Panyang was his brainchild after leaving his job as a meat distributor of one of the country’s biggest meat shops.
Aside from the restaurant, he also owns a resort, a dessert bar, and a farm which are all located in Santa Fe.

Tancinco was proud to say that he always knew where and how to dispose of his garbage.

Chef Panyang alone produces around 50 kilograms of garbage daily.

“I have to look ahead. Even before Panyang expanded, I know I have to manage my garbage well. As a restaurant, Panyang produces a lot of waste – kitchen waste and plastic pieces. But Santa Fe is a small town on a small island, and if I don’t start managing my own trash, it will greatly affect the entire town,” said Tancinco.

The town, which has a population of over 28,000, gained notoriety in 2016 after photos of garbage left uncollected along the stretch of its famous, white-sand shorelines went viral on social media.

Santa Fe’s waste management problem then became the object of angry criticism from netizens, which prompted the local government unit (LGU) to impose tighter garbage laws in 2017.

The laws include an ordinance seeking to arrest any person caught littering and another measure calling for the revocation of the business license of establishments found to have unsegregated trash.

“As a businessman, we don’t want our licenses to be revoked by the local government. That means loss. Yes, managing your own trash and setting up a MRF meant additional costs but it’s more costly if we have to face a future wherein Santa Fe cannot attract tourists anymore due to its trash problem,” said Tancinco.

In September 2017, the town’s sole open-dumpsite located in Barangay Maricaban was ordered closed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) due to overcapacity.

“It can no longer accommodate the trash Santa Fe is producing, that’s why they decided to close it,” said Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana.

In response, Esgana said that they passed several more ordinances to ensure that everyone in Santa Fe was doing their part to comply with Republic Act No. 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act.

Santa Fe officials also encouraged town residents to collect plastic cellophanes and wrappers wherever they go, place them inside plastic bottles and give them to the municipal government.

According to Esgana, the collected wrappers and bottles would be given to a plastic manufacturer in exchange for plastic chairs and tables needed in public schools and other state-run institutions like the rural health unit and police station.

“Our target is that every household and establishment has to do their part. We instructed them to come up with means to generate zero-waste; meaning, their waste such as plastics and kitchen waste must be converted into something other people can still use,” said Esgana.

Otherwise, closing down Santa Fe from tourists as a means to teach non-complying citizens, guests, and establishments a lesson would be an option, Esgana warned.

“If the national government will not shut us down, (then) the LGU of Santa Fe will. The entire island will be totally closed … not only certain establishments. The LGU can discourage tourists not to visit Santa Fe,” said Esgana.

Told of the mayor’s stern warning, Tancinco said he welcomed the closure if necessary but hopes that it would not be for long.

“I’m fine with closing Santa Fe from tourists for a while. It’s one way to teach those who still do not want to follow laws and ordinances here, especially the ones involving the protection of the environment,” said Tancinco.

“But if that possibility will really come to fruition, I think it should not be too long. Because aside from us business owners, those greatly affected by it will be our workers,” he added.

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TAGS: Santa Fe, targeted, Waste, zero

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