The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) approved this month the solid waste management (SWM) plans of 57 local government units (LGUs) nationwide, bringing the total to 114 for the entire year.

Of the 57 approved SWM plans, 32 are from the cities/municipalities of Luzon, 18 from Mindanao, and seven from Visayas. Regions 1 and 3 had the highest number of approvals at 10 each.

This latest development is a “huge feat” in addressing the solid waste problems in the country, according to NSWMC Alternate Chair and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

“The approval of this new batch of 10-year SWM plans proves that we are on track in instilling responsibility and accountability among LGUs in managing solid waste,” Antiporda said.

“This will be a huge boost in our campaign to urge them to address the solid waste problem in their localities and to fully implement Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,” he added.

RA 9003 mandates all LGUs—province, city or municipality—to prepare and submit their 10-year SWM plans, anchored on the national SWM framework, subject to approval by the NSWMC. The plan shall include their strategies to address SWM, information campaigns and incentive programs.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Antiporda said the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has made possible the online submission and approval of SWM plans.

“The Commission was in consensus of the adjustment I suggested, which is to do the approval online,” Antiporda said.

He added that the EMB regional offices conduct the screening of applications for validation by the EMB central office, and approval by the NSWMC.

“Due to the pandemic, we cannot do face-to-face deliberations and approvals. We do it through teleconferencing,” Antiporda said.

According to Antiporda, the NSWMC requires the mayor or governor to present the plan live to assure that the officials are involved in its crafting. Otherwise, he said, it will not be endorsed.

“We want our local chief executives to be really involved in creating their SWM plan,” he pointed out. “When they are involved, they will identify the needs of their respective LGUs, what could be improved, and what could be done to help the community in terms of SWM.”

Antiporda said that while some SWM plans are still in the validation process, the LGU applicants could already start implementing them. He also encouraged those who have not submitted their plans to comply with the law. ###