DENR, DepEd, MMDA launch National Eco-savers Program

Metro Manila’s public school students will now be able to exchange their recyclables for school supplies or even cash, with the launching today (Nov. 8) of the National Ecosavers Program (NEP) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Education, and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

On hand to launch the program were DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, and MMDA Chair Francisco Tolentino. Senator Loren Legarda, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim also graced the occasion, which was also attended by teachers and students from the National Capital Region.

Paje said the goal of the program was to have every school establish an ecological solid waste recovery system, thereby reducing solid waste being collected from schools and households.

“By establishing some form of incentive for managing their solid waste, we are encouraging students to sort their waste and minimize the generation of garbage in their homes. Participating students will get something useful, possibly even cash, in exchange for the recyclables they turn in to their schools,” he explained.

According to him, an incentive mechanism is being formulated under the program, where students will be issued an “Ecosavers Club Passbook” to record the credit points they earn from their recyclable materials.

The recyclables will then be pooled for final collection by accredited junk shops or recyclers.

The initial phase of the NEP would be implemented in 763 public elementary and high schools in the National Capital Region (NCR), involving some 1.9 million students.

He also said that part of the program would also enjoin schools to make their own compost from biodegradable wastes. The compost could then be used as fertilizer for seedlings produced and nurtured under the National Greening Program (NGP).

Paje also extended his gratitude to Secretary Luistro for steering the Education Department into becoming an active ally in the implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act. He stressed that mobilizing public schools would guarantee the effective implementation of the program, as demonstrated in Marikina, Pasig, Makati and Quezon cities.

The launching program also featured an environmental exhibit, tree planting and tour of the Arroceros mini-forest; story-telling session by Ms. Earth candidates; agricultural demonstration sessions on hydrophonics, vermiculture and mushroom culture; and an eco-savers bag contest.

The partnership for the NEP implementation had been formalized earlier in June, when a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed among the DENR, DepEd, MMDA, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the non-government Galing Pook Foundation (GPF).

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.

The MOA defined the NEP as having six components: education by integrating SWM concepts in school curricula; capability building of students, educators and the community; monitoring and evaluation of the program’s impact; advocacy and networking with other stakeholders and service providers, such as recyclers; convergence and complementation with the NGP; and sustainability.

Paje has committed a P50 million funding for the initial implementation of the project 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%).

To ensure sustainability, the NEP would facilitate pooling of resources among the partner agencies, as well as all 17 local government units (LGUs) of NCR and recyclers from the private sector.