What a Waste!

What a Waste!

What a Waste: Dealing with Metro Manila’s Garbage Problem

Enrico C. Bagadion

Garbage has long been a festering problem for Metro Manila. In a news article in Manila Bulletin’s February 8, 2004 issue, this problem again came to light with the article heading “MMDA Chair urges proper waste disposal”. Indiscriminate garbage disposal, as we all know, is intricately linked to development issues that affect health and sanitation, foreign investments, aesthetics and tourism, and particularly flooding.

While the MMDA has been aggressively addressing the problem at the disposal stage with collection programs and landfill/dump site projects, it has woefully missed on actively supporting or formulating programs where they matter most: at the source.

This paper attempts to offer alternatives to mitigate the impact of Metro Manila’s garbage problem by looking for solutions “at the source”. The following alternatives can be combined, if feasible.

1. Ban the use of plastic bags by commercial establishments/vendors as carrying bags for items bought by consumers. Plastic bags, as we know them, have become a part of our daily commercial activities – from sturdy grocery bags to those fragile pastel-colored bags used to wrap fish, meat, fruits and other goods from the wet market; from big department store bags to those small plastic bags used by vendors to wrap boiled corn or balut or those used by sari-sari stores to pack “tingi” cooking oil, salt or “to go” soft drinks. Much has been said about these seemingly innocuous plastic bags ending up in garbage heaps or clogging municipal drains. Perhaps the only practical way to extricate ourselves from a life of dependency on these bags is to ban their use altogether. Implementation of the ban can be done on a 3-phase basis with a massive education and information campaign as the first step. This stage will also give time for consumers to seek innovative ways on how they can carry home items bought from stores. The...

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