By Chito Chavez
Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition on May 26, Tuesday, in its order to the concerned agencies when business becomes operational in areas under quarantine, urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to focus on waste segregation at the source.
“As the government prepares guidelines for the re-opening of most business establishments following months of limited or non-operation, we suggest to concerned agencies to include provisions on mandatory separation of waste materials at the point of generation,” said Jove Benosa, zero waste campaigner for the EcoWaste Coalition.
Benosa called on the authorities to make source separation “as part of the new normal to achieve the interconnected objectives of conserving resources and protecting waste workers from coronavirus infection.”
“We cannot let our guard down as the risk of coronavirus exposure remains high,” he added.
Benosa also pointed out that “the virus is believed to persist in surfaces, including waste materials, for up to several days.”
“The issuance of guidelines requiring waste segregation at source will minimize the cross-contamination of discarded materials and reduce occupational exposure to the virus,” Benosa noted.
The Quezon City-based group cited as an example the “Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Accommodation Establishments Under the New Normal” issued on May 22 by Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
As stated in DOT Memorandum Circular No. 2020-002, accommodation establishments such as hotels, resorts, apartment hotels, tourist inns, motel, pension houses, private homes used for homestay, ecolodges, serviced apartments, condotels, and bed and breakfast facilities, are required to put trash bins inside guest rooms, requiring further that “a separate trash bag or bin intended for used personal protective equipment (PPEs) such as face masks, gloves, and other sanitation waste materials must be provided.”
Earlier, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) released a “Waste Segregation Advisory” informing the public that the “proper handling of household healthcare wastes such as used face masks and gloves that are considered as special wastes will help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Likewise, the EMB directed local authorities “to ensure compliance of their constituents with the proper segregation, handling, and disposal of wastes” in line with the requirements of Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act No. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.