“Let’s put on a healthy attitude towards the environment we live in. Ensuring the safety and welfare of the community through proper solid waste management is a shared responsibility”, DENR 8 Regional Executive Director Tirso P. Parian, Jr. exhorts the public as the Department leads the observance of “Zero Waste Month” this January.

Highlighted with the theme, “Bouncing back from the pandemic to greener and healthier planet”, Director Parian said that this year’s commemoration underscores proper handling and management of wastes generated from households, health institutions and other facilities during the pandemic.

 Recent report from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 8 reveals that in 2020, Eastern Visayas generated a total of 20,853,183 kilograms of wastes. Of this, 6,194,015 or 29% is biodegradable, 1,651,737 or 8% is recyclable, 1,445,270 or 7% is special wastes, 11,562,161 or 56% is residual wastes, which include wastes that are non-compostable and non-recyclable such as used tetra packs, plastics, diapers, and others.

The EMB further disclosed that in previous years, residual wastes do not constitute more than 50% of the total regional waste generation. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, residual wastes generation in 2020 constituted 56%.

“Practices and efforts towards the containment of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected our waste generation. The observance of Zero Waste Month is timely and relevant in calling out for discipline towards safe management and disposal of our wastes”, Director Parian said. “We need to act so that less waste will clog our drainage or go to our bins and landfills, adversely affecting our health and daily conditions”, he adds.

The Philippines marks January as “Zero Waste Month” as declared in Proclamation No.760 signed by President Benigno Aquino III in May 2014. Pursuant to the declaration, the celebration aims to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices, to emulate sustainable natural cycles where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others. This observance also coincides with the 20th Anniversary of Republic Act 1003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management  Act of 2000.