December 2, 2023

More than a hundred garbage workers, volunteers, and sorters met with General Services Office (GSO) assistant department head Ma. Guadalupe Della for the “Sorters Support Program Launch” last Oct. 6 at the GSO in New Lucban.

They were joined by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda as committee chair on health, sanitation, ecology and environmental protection; Zero Waste Baguio officials Becky Tenefrancia and Ofelia Giron; TetraPak Sustainability Manager Catherine Chua, and private partner Shiella Gomez. 

The event launched the sorting and eventual collection of clean carton boxes at the city’s transfer station, at Marcos Highway, and at a junk shop nearby; for recycling.

Displayed at the GSO hall were a specially designed small bookcase and chair set, stationery, chess set, decorative boxes and quaint bricks in play form, all from recycled paper carton packaging.

Tabanda discussed the need to focus on having funds for livelihood, education, child and elderly care, instead of paying more than P300 million annually for the hauling of garbage to an engineered sanitary landfill in Tarlac.

Proper segregation of garbage should be done for organics, residual, recyclable and even electronic wastes which could be brought to the Bakakeng e-waste facility, Tabanda said.

Segregation of carton packaging will bring in more income to the volunteers and sorters, Tabanda added, as Chua assured the buy-back scheme for used cartons.

Cartons are composed of 70 percent paper, layers of plastic and aluminum; and used as packaging for juice and food. The multiple layers, however, are not easily recyclable, thus the need for special recycling procedures which TetraPak is willing to provide, as part of Republic Act 11898 or the Extended Producer Responsibility on Plastic Packaging Waste.

Garbage volunteers raised the need for segregation at source even in the city public market, scheduling problems in almost all barangays, unscheduled mounting garbage, especially in passageways from La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay; heavy garbage as these are construction materials; soil and sand for disposal; mixed wastes which include human and dog waste; broken glasses, and medical wastes. Garden waste should be composted at source or in the barangay concerned, the garbage workers said.

Tabanda and the eco-waste advocates hailed the garbage workers as heroes in the community. She urged them to care for their health, assuring them of medical outreach and haircut services to be done on schedule.

Rain boots and personal protective equipment were distributed to the volunteers through Tetra Pak company after the meeting. – Julie G. Fianza