In furthering the ecological solid waste management program for Metro Manila, the government has turned its eye on the 1.99 million-strong students in public elementary and high schools in the National Capital Region.
In a convergence approach of program implementation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources represented by Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, along with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino, entered into a memorandum of agreement on Thursday with non-government organization Galing Pook Foundation, Inc. (GPF) for the implementation of the National Ecosavers Program or NEP.
Under the new program, the students are enjoined to collect and segregate recyclable materials from their respective households and bring them to their schools where these are pooled for final collection by accredited junk shop or recyclers.
They are likewise encouraged to bring biodegradable materials which will be turned into compost soil that can be used as medium in producing tree seedlings for planting under the National Greening Program (NGO).
“We could just imagine if all the 1.99 million students would be able to bring in at least half a kilo of recyclable garbage every day, the impact would be great not only in terms of reducing the stress on the collection and disposal system, but also in addressing the littering problem that causes the clogging of esteros and storm drainage,” Paje explained.
Paje has committed a P50 million funding for the project, which will be implemented initially in Metro Manila, where garbage generation stands at 8,000 tons per day. Of this total, half comprises of food and other organics, a fourth composed of plastic materials, while 12 percent is paper. The remaining balance consisted of metals (5%), glass (3%), special and hazardous waste (1%) and residuals (4%).
Paje disclosed that an incentive mechanism is still being formulated following a credit system approach using an “Ecosavers Club Passbook” issued to students which will record the credit points a student earns.
Among the options being studied include credit points that can be exchanged for basic commodities or peso equivalent that will be deposited in a student’s own savings bank account that will be opened under the scheme.
“The program will teach the students in the most practical and understandable way of how the garbage can be converted into a valuable resource. It will show them that indeed, may pera sa basura,” Paje added.
DepEd records indicate that there are more than 1.2 million pupils currently enrolled in 517 public elementary schools, and some 674, 237 students in 246 secondary schools in Metro Manila.
Based on the MOA, the DENR will take the lead in the provision of technical, monitoring and funding support, with the DepEd handling the training of principals and teachers on the implementation of the program while the DILG and MMDA would take the lead in the collection of processed garbage materials in coordination with accredited recycling firms and junk shops.
For its part, GPF committed to replicate best SWM practices it has documented nationwide through its 20 years of giving recognition to top performing local governments.
GPF chairperson Nieves Confesor cited the Marikina model as an example of the success of tapping schools for the city’s impressive performance in compliance with RA 9003
Paje said Metro Manila has been chosen to be NEP’s pilot area in light of the area’s organized network of junk shop operators and recyclers and its huge share at 25 percent of the country’s total daily waste generation at 30,000 tons.