A waste and pollution watchdog has commended members of the informal waste sector for salvaging flood-soaked electronics and other useful discards that could have ended up in landfills in the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses.
“Community-based informal recyclers again took the lead in the retrieval of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), popularly known as e-waste, from flood-stricken neighborhoods,” noted Jover Larion, community organizer and campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Their dedication to their job and their enterprising spirit led to the removal of some e-waste from the piles of disaster debris and trash to be hauled to landfills for disposal.”
Larion explained that diverting e-waste away from landfills is good for the environment as this will help in reducing the volume of hazardous waste that gets dumped in landfills.
E-waste, which includes anything with a plug, electric cord or spent batteries, contains hazardous substances that can harm human health and the environment, including toxic metals like cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead and mercury, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
According to a United Nations report released in 2019, “e-waste may represent only 2 percent of solid waste streams, yet it can represent 70 percent of the hazardous waste that ends up in landfill.”
The same report states that “e-waste in landfill contaminates soil and groundwater, putting food supply systems and water sources at risk.”
The EcoWaste Coalition cited the e-waste dismantlers from the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa San Vicente Ferrer Camarin who braved the elements to procure over 600 units of flood-damaged TV sets from affected households in Marikina City, Antipolo City and San Mateo, Rizal.
The Caloocan City-based e-waste dismantlers then resold the cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs to a government-supported storage and dismantling facility in Barangay Bagong Silang before being transported to the Integrated Recycling Industries, Inc. in Calamba City for proper recycling and disposal.
The pilot facility in Bagong Silang came into being as a result of the ongoing “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” being implemented by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) with support from the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
The e-waste component of the said project aims to reduce occupational exposure of women and men in the informal waste sector from dreaded neurological, developmental and reproductive toxicants present in such waste.
The project is also targeting the safe management of 1.125 tons of PBDEs from 50,000 units of CRT TVs and computer monitors.
According to the EMB, the country has generated a total of 32,664 metric tons of WEE in 2019.