EDITORIAL - After the typhoon, the garbage

The Philippine Star

As in previous typhoons, tons of garbage washed up on the shores of Manila Bay as Super Typhoon Karding pummeled Luzon beginning Sunday night. The most visible was the garbage on the white dolomite beach in Manila.

Before the controversial artificial beach was installed beside Manila’s Baywalk, even normal tides regularly dumped tons of garbage along what used to be rock-strewn shores. This points to a problem that has yet to be resolved: improper garbage disposal. It also lies at the heart of plastic pollution: whether it’s single-use or plant-based biodegradable, plastic – and all other types of materials – will continue to pollute land and oceans, getting stuck in the guts of whales, as long as waste is not disposed of properly.

These days, in addition to plastic, tin cans, glass containers, water bottles, paper waste and wood scraps, the other materials now regularly washed ashore around Manila Bay are pandemic-related garbage: face masks and medical waste. One can only guess where the garbage comes from, but it is a clear indication of inefficient waste management by the government, compounded by people’s filthy habits that can’t seem to be broken.

The garbage likely has multiple origins: households, business establishments, industrial plants, government offices, schools, health facilities, leisure areas, and even the large ships that enter the bay. Local government units, now equipped with a much larger share of national revenue, must boost their garbage collection and waste management services, especially in depressed areas where people cannot afford to buy plastic garbage bags, much less segregate their waste.

Garbage receptacles are also needed in public spaces with high foot traffic, such as in areas where people line up for mass transport. In the absence of such receptacles, many people simply drop cigarette stubs, used tissue paper and face masks as well as food containers on the sidewalk, knowing that no one is enforcing laws against littering.

Apart from attracting rodents, cockroaches and other vermin, the garbage piles also clog drainage systems, aggravating flooding that has worsened in recent years amid extreme weather attributed to climate change. During heavy rainfall and typhoons, the garbage washes ashore, spoiling the pristine state of the high-maintenance dolomite beach in Manila.

Barangay personnel, who are moving heaven and Earth to obtain yet another term extension from Congress and Malacañang, should make themselves useful and organize systematic garbage disposal within their jurisdictions. People should do their part, through a change in mindset and practices. There are people who like dumping their garbage anywhere except in their own backyard. In fact the entire planet is our backyard, and it is every person’s responsibility to keep the Earth clean.


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