‘Clean Up! Green Up!’

Solid waste management program of the City of Parañaque to reduce waste and plastic pollution in the city. Photo from the presentation of Engr. Ma. Teresa Quiogue, Supervising Environmental Management Specialist from the City Environment & Natural Resources Office of Parañaque.

In celebration of the National Clean-Up Month this September, the 60th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Change Pathways” featured local governments’ and private sector’s initiatives to help reduce single-use plastics and prevent plastic pollution. This was also in time for the passage of House Bill 9147 or the Single-use Plastic Products Regulation Act in the third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

The online conversation conceptualized and hosted by three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda, with co-host Atty. Ipat Luna, featured guests including Engr. Ma. Teresa Quiogue, Supervising Environmental Management Specialist from the City Environment & Natural Resources Office of Parañaque; Mr. Vincent Alon, Head of Solid Waste Management Research & Training Division of the local government of Muntinlupa City; Mr. Saar Herman, Chief Technology Officer of Green Antz Builders, Inc.; and Ms. Mharee Lynn Guillena from the National Clean Up Day Coalition Philippines.

“Huwag na tayong maghintay na matapos ang pandemic bago tayo sumunod sa warning o alarm ng ating planeta. Nakikita natin ang epekto nito sa ating mga buhay at kabuhayan, at sinasabi na ng mga eksperto sa agham na lalala pa ito,” Atty. Luna emphasized.

The City Environment & Natural Resources Office of Parañaque shared their best practices and solid waste management programs including the deployment of Bantay Kalikasan; CENRO and City MRF Operations; “Zero Plastics Sa Landfill” Project; “Upcycling” Livelihood Project; Plastic Ordinance Implementation; and Order Ni M.R.S.

“Waste management is a shared responsibility. Ito po ay hindi responsibilidad lang ng gobyerno, let us all be responsible sa sari-sarili nating waste,” said Engr. Quiogue.

The local government of Muntinlupa City also shared its solid waste management programs, including the Bring-Your-Own-Bag (BYOB) Program.

“’Yung mga programang para sa ikabubuti at ikaaayos ng kalikasan, hindi na dapat natin itong pagtalunan, bagkus ay dapat natin itong pagtulungan,” said Mr. Alon.

Mr. Herman introduced Green Antz Builders, an organization that provides building and housing solutions that integrate eco-friendly practices and green technologies in its products and services. They partnered with the private sector and local governments to combat plastic pollution and reduce the waste going to landfills through setting up a recycling facility that would process biodegradable wastes to composts, and plastics to eco-bricks.

“Since climate change is such an imminent and immediate danger to our well-being, it will be very helpful if we can put up as many resources to try to tackle it, like the prevention of plastic and wastes as part of prevention of the effects of climate change. But definitely, in a place like the Philippines, we need the entire system to understand the amount of threat that this represents and the amount of help needed to work together,” said Mr. Herman.

Ms. Guillena shared their advocacy of promoting and creating awareness in taking action on issues with ocean garbage and water waste, as well as green programs and grassroots campaigns. Apart from cleanup programs, they also collect single- use plastics to convert them into eco-bricks, as well as organize eco-bricks workshops and online webinars.

“Let us not allow plastics to rule us, destroy us, and kill us. Let us all unite and win this war against plastics,” said Ms. Guillena.

As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, “Stories for a Better Normal” aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.

This online discussion is organized in a partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation.