Despite the enhanced community quarantine being imposed in Luzon and other parts in the country due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Senator Cynthia Villar has stressed that the proper handling of waste products can still be done.
Stressing the strict adherence to social distancing, the so-called bio-men, or the barangay-employed collectors of kitchen wastes, continue to bike around Las Pinas City to collect kitchen wastes, said Villar said.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Environment Committee, noted it is important that garbage collection and recycling efforts continue to prevent additional health and sanitation woes.
“We continue to generate waste even if we are under quarantine. Garbage will pile up if these are not collected and overwhelm our landfills if not properly segregated and recycled,” Villar said.
The senator also added that used masks and gloves can easily mix with household waste when these should be treated as hazardous wastes.
She urged local government officials to implement environmentally-sound practices alongside measures battling the spread of COVID-19.
In her home city of Las Pinas, Villar said composting and recycling facilities continue operating to properly manage the city’s waste and at the same time continue to provide livelihood to residents.
The bio-men, she said, turn over their collection to composting and vermi-composting centers where kitchen wastes were converted into organic fertilizers in their own barangay.
“In a month, we produce 70 tons of fertilizer and give them out to farmers in nearby provinces. In Metro Manila, there are also urban gardeners and vegetable farmers who benefit from this free farm input,” Villar said.
Collected soft plastics such as food wrappers were recycled into plastic chairs. It takes 20 kilos of plastic to produce one arm chair which the senator donates to public schools all over the country.
Waste coconut husks are also collected to be turned into “coconet” and charcoal.
“Our composting and recycling projects helped us recycle 70 percent of waste and enabled us to save on garbage hauling services. This is very important especially now that garbage collection can no longer be brought to the landfill in Montalban, Rizal because of quarantine measures,” Villar said.
Villar also said workers in these composting and recycling centers live nearby and operate on spacious areas where social distancing can be easily observed./Stacy Ang