Barangays urged to address solid waste pollution in Davao watersheds

Assorted plastic waste recovered at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed during a clean-up on Friday, 13 August 2021. Photo courtesy of IDIS

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 September) – The barangays should address solid waste pollution within the city’s watersheds frequented by trekkers, the Davao City-based Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability Inc. (IDIS) said on Thursday.

Lawyer Mark Peñalver, IDIS executive director said can help solve the solid waste problem by enforcing ordinances to protect the environment.

Peñalver said the city has eight major watersheds. These are Lasang, Sibulan-Sirawan, Panacan-Bunawan, Talomo-Lipadas, Davao River, Matina-Pangi, Tamugan-Panigan, and Malagos.

On August 10, an ordinance regulating recreational activities within the watershed-conservation areas for the protection, conservation, and preservation of the natural environment authored by 2nd District Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr. was passed.

“The Watershed Management Council already passed a resolution regulating recreational activities in the watershed areas, which was also adopted into a policy by the City Council. What these barangays have to do is to implement it. Further, these barangays should establish their MRF (materials recovery facility) and strengthen their collection,” Peñalver said.

Mahipus, chair of the environment committee of the city council, said in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) last September 23 that the ordinance requires the trekkers to inform the barangay a week prior to entering a watershed-conservation area and directs barangay officials to give orientation and screen trekkers for prohibited items.

Prohibited items include liquors, paints, permanent markers, cigarettes, and illegal drugs, he said.

While they are not completely prohibited, Mahipus clarified that the barangays must account all the single-use plastics, including sachets and packaging, that the trekkers will bring into the conservation areas.

He said these plastic wastes must be presented for collection before leaving the barangays.

“What you bring in, you must bring with you as you leave to ensure that no garbage will be left, particularly in the rivers,” he said.

Last September 23, the IDIS reported a total of 3,704 pieces of mixed wastes were collected during waste and brand audit at Panigan River in Brgy. Tawan-Tawan and Brgy. Carmen, Lower Tamugan River in Brgy. Gumalang, and Davao River in Brgy. San Rafael conducted on August 20, August 27, September 3, and September 10, respectively.

The trashes included food packaging, plastic bags, PET and glass bottles, toiletries, sachets, medical wastes, and other household wastes.

Of the total wastes collected, 1,518 pieces or 41% were food wrappers or packaging of junk food, biscuits, and other packed snacks were collected; 553 pieces or 15% were plastic bags and sacks; 475 pieces or 13% were detergents, soap, and shampoo sachets; 402 pieces or 11% plastic (PET) bottles, plastic cups, and high-density plastic containers; and 183 or 5% were disposable face mask.

“The lower percentile (2%-1%) is composed of other residual wastes that include, among others, used clothes, glass bottles, tin cans, disposable diapers and napkins, cigarette buds, and deflated balloons,” IDIS added.

“We also urge our barangay local government units to strictly monitor their respective jurisdictions and enforce their mandate under existing laws. How they manage their waste problem also reflects how they lead their respective barangay. Most importantly, these areas are critical to the future of Davao City, Panigan-Tamugan watershed being the next source of drinking water of the city,” Peñalver said.

According to IDIS, the top brands collected were produced by Liwayaway Holdings Company, manufacturer of Oishi, Crispy Patata, Rinbee, and other junk food; Procter & Gamble, maker of leading detergent bars and powders, dishwashing liquids, and disposable diapers; Prifood Corporation, a leading producer of junk food in the country (e.g. Super Crunch, Yip Yap, Red Chili; and Universal Robina, which produces Piattos, Chicharon ni Mang Juan, Nova, Mr. Chips.

The other top brands were Unilever, Coca Cola, JBC Food Corp, Nestle, Republic Biscuit, and WL Food Products.

Results of the 2020 audit revealed almost the same companies in the Top 10 Ranking. In that year, the top brands were as follows: Rebisco, WL Foods, Universal Robina, Coca Cola, Nestle, Nutri Asia, Liwayway, Regent, Unilever, and Monde Nissin.

Eight of the 10 brands were common in the 2020 and 2021 audits.

“IDIS and Bantay Bukid Volunteers call the attention of the top polluters of our rivers.  Start shifting from throwaway packaging models to more sustainable reuse and refill systems and mainstream other community-based working models that aim to end dependence on single-use plastics. IDIS and Bantay Bukid volunteers also urge the public to manage their wastes properly and avoid using single-use plastics. Such small efforts are a big help to conserve and protect the environment,” IDIS said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)