A zero-waste lifestyle, anyone?

By Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos |January 17,2019 - 06:56 AM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

Are you aware that we observe Zero-Waste Month in January? 

Former President Benigno Aquino III issued Proclamation No. 460 on May 5, 2014 to encourage citizens and entities to pursue zero-waste lifestyle in this era of unabated consumerism.

Zero-waste is defined as an “advocacy that promotes designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, and to conserve and recover all resources, and not indiscriminately dispose or burn them.” 

Note the key phrases “avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials” and “not indiscriminately dispose or burn them.”

In our own beloved Cebu, this month gave us illustrations of citizen and media vigilance and appalling neglect and indifference in the management of wastes.

The January 5 report of Cebu Daily News Digital thru Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo on the plan by a restaurant to release sky lanterns, as a Sinulog activity, alarmed netizens and environmental advocates alike.

Where do you think the debris will fall as all matters have to go somewhere, and with tremendous destructive consequences to an already-threatened natural environment, apart from safety considerations and being clearly violative of our laws? 

The plan was aborted by the company who responded promptly, and scored a victory for Mother Nature and our citizens. This happened soon after citizens opposed and DENR cancelled the planned balloon drop by Okada in Manila days back. Several establishments followed suit.

A few days ago, medical wastes were seen floating in the waters of Lapulapu City and went viral in the internet. Such uncaring and reckless ways raised many questions why there is seemingly loose regulations in the management of hazardous and infectious hospital wastes.

We did have partial good news: the agreement forged to ship back to South Korea  initially of about 51 containers with hazardous wastes  dumped specifically in the port of Misamis Oriental. Two hundred containers “with toxic waste including syringes, diapers, and other hospital wastes still needed to be rebagged then returned to the containers where they came from.” 

Another cause for concern is the fate of the 50 container vans containing household trash including solid adult diapers from Canada that still remain in our ports since 2013 and 2014. Under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wasted and Their Disposal, these illegal shipments have to be shipped back to the port of origin.

Had keen understanding by all stakeholders and the much-needed political will by authorities and private sector operated for RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,  to be fully implemented, we would not have this perilous challenges that we are facing.

A country that has laxed and weak implementation of laws is seen as an ideal dumping ground for wastes.  

Let us show to the world that we have not ceased to care for our selves, our people and our planet, and yes, our dignity.

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