A sea of garbage

Published January 14, 2019, 12:05 AM

by Ignacio R. Bunye



Ignacio R. Bunye
Ignacio R. Bunye

The recent Traslacion has established newer records of sorts – the longest procession, the best attended, the most organized, the least number of injured persons reported.

Inevitably, however, it also earned the unenviable record for the largest volume of garbage generated in a single public event.

Almost a half day after the procession officially ended, MMDA and even barangay brigades were still busy collecting garbage along the procession route causing not a few social media commentators to refer to the annual religious event as Trashlacion.

The day after, comments in social media made for very interesting reading.

Basically, commentators analyzed the reasons for our propensity to wantonly throw garbage, not just in events like the Traslacion but even in ordinary outdoor public gatherings.

Here are a few comments which, to me, hit closest to home.

Basically, we have become spoiled both at home and in school. In general, there is always somebody at home, the kasambahay, who cleans up our mess. In school cafeterias, somebody else usually clears the table for us after we have left.

Another commentator explained it slightly differently.

Inside our own homes, we tend to be “garbage free.” The problem, however, begins as soon as we leave home.

Either way, the situation appears to boil down to a breakdown in individual and community discipline.

How do we restore discipline?

It is easier said than done, but the textbook answer lies in the 3 E’s — E-ducation, E-nforcement, and E-ngineering. To these, I would add a fourth E: E-xample.

There is no dearth of materials on any and all of the foregoing aspects of solid waste management. In fact, a comprehensive plan based on solid waste management best practices is even available off the shelf.

What is just needed is political will.

Read that as: E-xecution.

Garbage dumping

To further complicate our problems, we have had two episodes of garbage dumping originating from foreign countries.

6,500 tons of waste materials, originating from South Korea, somehow found their way into the Mindanao port in Misamis Oriental last year.

The materials were declared as “soft plastic” for furniture reprocessing but turned out to be medical and electronic waste.

The South Korean government has since agreed to take back the trash.

Not so, in the case of the Canadian government.

Between 2013 and 2014, private Canadian companies shipped to the Philippines 103 containers declared to contain scrap plastics for recycling. The containers turned out to be filled with municipal solid waste not fit for recycling.

During the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila in November, 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly assured President Duterte that Canada is working on a solution to the garbage dumping controversy.

Not much has been heard from Trudeau since.

Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III ruefully commented that the two incidents sadly reflect how we are perceived abroad.

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