With the onset of the summer season, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is urging local government units (LGUs) to plan ahead of the anticipated increase in tourism activities.
The DENR believes that more tourists mean more garbage that could lead to a serious solid-waste management problem.
In a news statement issued on Wednesday, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged LGUs to plan ahead and ensure proper waste disposal, particularly in tourist destinations.
“Local government officials should amplify their measures in managing wastes, particularly in tourism sites, as we expect an increased volume of garbage with the arrival of tourists this summer season,” the DENR chief said.
At the same time, Cimatu appealed to tourists to be responsible for their wastes and avoid littering, especially along the shorelines and in the waters.
“We do not want the same situation in Boracay Island to happen to other vacation sites. LGUs should be keen in monitoring waste issues in their areas of jurisdiction. Segregation activities should be strictly implemented. Tourists should also throw their garbage only in designated trash bins,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu was tasked by President Duterte to address the environmental problems besetting Boracay Island. Aside from the water pollution because of discharge of untreated wastewater, Boracay is faced with a serious solid-waste management problem because of increased tourist arrivals that exceeded its hosting capacity.
Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, mandates the segregation of solid wastes, which includes the order that LGUs shall divert at least 25 percent of all solid-waste disposal facilities through use, recycling and composting activities and other resource-recovery activities.
Under the law, wastes should be segregated as compostable, non-recyclable, recyclable, residual waste and other classifications.
Compostable wastes or biodegradable wastes are wastes that can be broken down to nonpoisonous substances through the natural action of microorganisms. These include food wastes and soiled paper and wood. Similarly, residual wastes are wastes that are nonbiodegradable, noncompostable and nonrecyclable.
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said residual wastes should be disposed of through a long- term disposal facility or sanitary landfill. Residual wastes, include, among others, sanitary napkins, disposable diapers, worn-out rugs, cartons with plastic lining used for milk and juice containers, ceramics, candy wrappers or sachets and other soiled materials that cannot be composted and recycled.
Meanwhile, recyclable wastes are waste materials that can still be converted for beneficial use. Some of these are newspapers, ferrous scrap metal, nonferrous scrap metal, corrugated cardboard, aluminum, glass, office paper and tin cans.
Improper waste disposal especially along the shorelines affects marine life. Plastic products like pet bottles, candy wrappers sando bags and the like pose a threat to marine life.