QUEZON CITY, Jan. 12 - This January, environmental groups and other stakeholders are teaming up to get more people to take the road to zero waste.
The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Mother Earth Foundation (MEF), and the National Solid Waste Management Commission, in partnership with the Zero Waste International Alliance, EcoWaste Coalition, and the Climate Change Commission are staging a month-long Zero Waste Festival in celebration of the National Zero Waste Month.
With the theme, On the Road to Zero Waste, the Festival will feature various events, targeting various audiences.
The main event is the Zero Waste International Conference to be held on January 25 at the Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman, Quezon City. The conference will gather local and international speakers and representatives from local government units, non-government organizations, and various stakeholders to discuss challenges in solid waste management and present solutions and models that have been piloted in communities, both local and international, and have been found to be viable, effective, and safe.
"Low-cost, local and low-tech solutions, such as composting, recycling, and reuse of discards conserve finite resources, create green jobs, and do not harm public health and the environment,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation.
On January 27, a Zero Waste Cities Forum will be hosted by the City of San Fernando, Pampanga with several of the speakers at the conference also speaking. Also on the same day, participants will take an eco-tour to zero waste model communities in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, in Brgy. Potrero, Manila and in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
There will also be twin events that aim to involve the youth in environmental issues, particularly on solid waste management. The first is the Zero Waste Caravan in participating schools nationwide from January 3 to January 28. The second is the Youth Convergence, which will gather student leaders from different universities on January 26 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila City.
The festival will also put the real heroes of the zero waste movement—the waste workers—on the center stage. Often neglected, waste workers play an important role in model Zero Waste communities in the Philippines.
“By doing door-to-door segregated collection, recycling, composting, and creative reuse of some materials, waste workers allow barangays to divert up to 92% of their waste from dumpsites and landfills, thereby saving cities millions of pesos in collection and transport cost, and millions more from avoided tipping fees,” said Froilan Grate, Executive Director of GAIA Philippines.
In recognition of their contributions, two events shall be devoted to waste workers. The Waste Workers Congress will focus on waste workers' rights and their current working condition, with the goal of gathering inputs for policy recommendations to relevant government agencies. The second event is the Waste Workers' Appreciation Day where around 300 waste workers will gather for a day of fun, free medical and dental services, and games with exciting prizes.
Finally, a Zero Waste Fair will feature arts and crafts demonstrations and an exhibit of recycled and repurposed products. Now on its third year, the event will be held at the Quezon City Circle. It will run from January 26 to 28 and is open to the public.
In 2014, then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III issued Presidential Proclamation No. 760 declaring January as Zero Waste Month.(EcoWaste Coalition)