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LGUs urged: Throw used PPE properly

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - September 24, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Several environmental health groups are pushing other local government units to take the lead of Lapu-Lapu City in making sure that discarded personal protective items such as soiled masks are properly disposed of and not end up polluting the ecosystem.

Lito Vasquez of the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement hopes that more LGUs will follow suit by enacting an ordinance prescribing the proper disposal of COVID-19 protective items.

Lapu-Lapu City recently passed an ordinance penalizing irresponsible disposal of soiled masks and instill environmental responsibility among the citizens in the face of the pandemic.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Rico Amores, approved on September 17, 2020, prohibits and penalizes the improper disposal of used masks and related COVID-19 protective materials.

The Ecowaste Coalition, however, said that some LGUs like the cities of Manila, Navotas and Quezon in Metro Manila, Cebu City in the Visayas and Davao City in Mindanao, are now in the process of enacting such measure.

In a statement released ahead of the observance of the World Environmental Health Day (WEHD) on September 26, various groups have cited the urgency of adopting new or strengthening existing ordinances to prevent the arbitrary disposal of soiled disposable masks, face shields, gloves, wipes, and tissues, as well as hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol containers.

“As the WEHD is observed locally, we appeal to our LGUs to enact new ordinances or reinforce existing ones that will deter users of disposable face masks and other items for infection control from simply throwing them on the ground,” said Pat Nicdao, the coalition’s policy and advocacy officer.

WEHD was adopted through Proclamation 595 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2018.

This year’s WEHD has a theme, “Sa Panahon ng Pandemya Malusog na Kapaligiran ang Bida” to put emphasis on the importance of addressing environmental health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nicdao added that the speedy enactment and genuine enforcement of such ordinances, along with effective public information and outreach, will surely help in reducing the volume of COVID-related plastic waste which pollutes the streets, beaches and seas.

Davao-based Chinkie Peliño-Golle of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) also said that the passage of local measures to check the unsafe disposal of throw-away masks is essential to promote environmental health given the unhampered supply of cheap single-use non-medical grade masks in the market.

Golle added that the local authorities should expand information, education and communication efforts on the proper use and management of protective masks, including the ecological benefits of reusable or washable cloth masks over disposable plastic ones. — FPL (FREEMAN)

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