Envi group says plastic waste polluting Davao City’s next source of potable water

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 October) —  A Davao City-based environmental group warned on Sunday that assorted solid waste, including single-use plastics, are polluting the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed in Baguio District, the next source of potable water for the city.

Chinkie Golle, Executive Director of the Davao City-based environmental Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) told MindaNews on Sunday that she was alarmed that a total of 1,713 pieces of assorted solid waste, mostly food and household product packaging, bottles, glass, cigarettes, face masks, and plastics, were recovered during a river clean-up drive and brand audit at the watershed last September 26.

Assorted waste recovered during a river clean-up and brand audit at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed in Baguio District, Davao City last September 26. (Photo courtesy of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability)

“We raised this issue during the Watershed Management Council meeting last week. We need to remind the barangay local government units to strictly implement and monitor the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Ordinance, and also to regulate the local tourists who go there for swimming and leave their wastes behind,” she added.

She said  brand audits involve counting and documenting the product brands that are polluting the environment, which would be used as a tool to hold consumer good companies accountable for their contribution to the global waste problem.

She said results showed how widespread and damaging is the impact of “throwaway plastic business model” on the environment.

“The result of this brand audit shows that there is an alarming increase of waste in one of the most important watersheds in Davao City — the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed,” she said.

She said various groups also participated in the activity, including Break Free from Plastics, Ecowaste Coalition, ad Sustainable Davao Movement, Bantay Bukid and Bantayo Aweg volunteers, and officials of Barangay Tawan-Tawan.

She said results of the audit show that Rebisco ranked first among the top 10 brands that contributed the most number of waste, with 220 pieces, which comprised 13-percent of the total waste recovered. This was followed by W.L. Foods with 131 pieces; Universal Robina Corporation with 120; Coca-Cola with 108; Nestle with 95; NutriAsia with 81; Oishi, Regent, Unilever and Monde Nissin with 65 each; and Monde Nissin Corporation with 62.

Golle said other wastes recovered were from the brands Procter & Gamble, Zest-O, Colgate-Palmolive, Philip Morris, San Miguel Corp, Selecta, and Johnson & Johnson.

A total of 67-percent of the total waste were food wraps and packages; 12-percent  detergent, shampoo and chemical sachets/pouch follows; 10-percent plastic bottles and cups;  and residual; and the rest were cans, sanitary napkins, diapers, cigarette butts, plastic bags, glass bottles, gloves, face masks, slippers, straws, and others waste.

She urged the local government authorities to impose regulations and ensure to implement proper waste management in the area.

Volunteers pick up waste during a river clean-up and brand audit at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed in Baguio District, Davao City last September 26. (Photo courtesy of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability)

Golle renewed calls for the enactment in the City Council of the proposed ordinance banning single-use plastics and full implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance in accordance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The group recommended the use of more eco-friendly alternative packaging for products such as biodegradable or paper-based sachets and push for initiatives on bulk selling and refilling stations or “refilling” sari-sari store.

“IDIS and other NGO’s also urge the public to properly dispose of their garbage and avoid using single-use plastics. Such small efforts are a big help to conserve and protect the environment,” she said.

The 12 billion Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project (DCBWSP) of the Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc., a joint venture between Aboitiz Equity Ventures and J.V. Angeles Construction Corporation will tap the watershed for the next water source of the city, which will have the capacity to supply over 300 million liters of water daily upon its completion in 2021.

The Davao City Water District is in-charge of the water supply distribution to the customers while Apo Agua is responsible for the water extraction and treatment. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)