Plastic waste problem worsens amid election season

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 March) — Concerns over plastic waste pollution are mounting amid the election seaso as national and local candidates in the May 2022 elections invest heavily in non-biodegradable campaign materials like banners and tarpaulins, a Davao City-based environmental group said.

Atty. Mark Peñalver, executive director of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), in a statement on Friday, called out politicians for posting their campaign materials in areas not designated as common posting areas, a recurring problem every election.

He said many of these banners are even nailed on tree trunks. 

He said the use of non-recyclable materials is a setback to environment goals, which are often neglected during campaign season.

“The single-use plastic waste generated during the campaign causes choking of drainage, ingestion by stray animals, land, and water pollution, thereby causing adverse impact on human health and the environment,” he said.

He encouraged voters to vote for leaders who prioritize environment and climate justice in their agenda.

Citing Section 9 of the Fair Election Act of 2001 or R.A. 9006, Peñalver said “posting of campaign materials may only be allowed in common poster areas in public places such as plazas, markets, barangay centers, and the like.”

Don’t use trees to post your campaign materials, the Commission on Elections says. This poster in Davao City is from the camp of senatorial candidate Guillermo Lorenzo Tolentino Eleazar, former chief of the Philippine National Police. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA

“Any trees, plants, shrubs in any public grounds” should not be designated as common poster areas under the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 10730 dated November 17, 2021, he said. 

He called on the poll body to ensure candidate’s strict compliance with the regulations “considering the problems already plaguing our city.”

He said most of these campaign materials will not be recovered by politicians and will likely end up in the landfill.

An environment group in Davao City has raised concern on the use of non-biodegradable materials in the election campaign. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

Peñalver told local and national candidates to be “more responsible for their waste,” “spare the trees” from their campaign materials because they can be detrimental to the condition of the trees, and collect their wastes after elections win or lose.

“We urge government agencies to champion much-needed policies and practices that will protect our environment from further degradation due to the political activities leading to the 2022 elections,” he said.

He said numerous election materials can already be seen in many places following the start of the national campaign on February 8 but added he expected more plastic wastes once local campaign starts on March 25.

“Only a fraction is likely to be recycled. On top of spoiling the view, these advertisement banners installed every election made with plastic do not decay well when buried and release toxic materials into the air when burned. Like the illegally dumped wastes below the campaign materials, this type of waste is always left unattended,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)