The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders and citizens in solving the country’s perennial garbage problem, saying the government could not do it alone.

“Solid waste management is not the government’s responsibility alone, it is everyone’s business,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGU) Concerns Benny Antiporda.

Antiporda, who also chairs the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), issued the statement after DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu declared that the country, particularly Metro Manila, “is in the middle of a garbage crisis.”

Cimatu’s declaration comes amid government efforts to revive the heavily polluted Manila Bay, which is the repository of trash and untreated sewage from households and businesses in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Without concerted efforts, Antiporda said the situation threatens to get worse. “We shouldn’t wait for the time when there are more trash than fish in the ocean,” he said.

Antiporda said the LGUs play a crucial role in solid waste management, having been tasked to ensure proper waste segregation and disposal under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The law requires LGUs to come up with their respective 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) and convert open dumpsites into sanitary landfills, Antiporda noted.

He said the NSWMC had fast-tracked the approval of SWMPs of hundreds of LGUs nationwide, while the DENR shut down some open dumpsites and filed criminal and administrative charges against local officials allowing the operation of these dumpsites that pose serious threat to the environment and public health.

The DENR official said that citizens could also help in solving the garbage problem by observing proper waste segregation and disposal, and not throwing rubbish anywhere.

“If we do not properly manage our waste, it can end up in drains and rivers, and eventually makes its way to the sea,” Antiporda pointed out.

Antiporda said that efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay would be futile if there is no effective implementation of solid waste management in the localities surrounding the historic water body. ###