There’s cash in trash for Metro Manila studentsBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Students taking to schools household garbage that could be recycled and reused stand to earn some money and at the same time help save the environment.
Government agencies and good governance advocacy group Galing Pook Foundation (GPF) on Thursday launched the National Ecosavers program, an initiative that aims to enlist students in 763 public schools in recycling efforts to reduce Metro Manila’s garbage output by nearly a hundred tons per day.
The project scheduled to begin this month aims to mobilize 1.99 million students in 517 elementary and 246 high schools in the capital region in segregating and recycling household trash to spare dumps from garbage enough to fill 23 10-wheeler trucks.
In return, students may earn points on their Ecosavers “passbook” and even reap cash rewards for turning over recyclables to their schools, officials said in launching rites at the Department of Education’s central office Thursday noon.
Garbage as resource
The recycling program is anchored on the government’s renewed view of garbage as a resource instead of waste.
“Waste becomes waste because we do not know how to reuse and recycle it. One of the signs of development is not just how much we consume but how wise we have become in recycling, reusing garbage,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said: “Solid waste is a resource. It can be used as input to produce power and so on.”
Through a P50-million grant from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the initiative would implement a recycling program already proven effective by GPF, which has documented best practices in solid waste management through its 20 years of giving out awards to top performing local governments.
One particular model comes from Marikina City, where schools were tapped to boost the city’s waste reduction program, said Nieves Confesor, the GPF board of trustees chair.
“The next generation must really make a personal choice for a green future,” Confesor said.
Assistant Environment Secretary Michelle Go said GPF would train principals and teachers on the implementation of the program while local governments and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority would coordinate garbage collection with recycling firms and junk shops.
“Students will be given an Ecosavers Club passbook. When they start bringing recyclables to school, that would be weighed and the amount is equivalent to points. At the end of the term, they will be given incentives in terms of cash,” Go said.
This reward will be deposited in a separate bank account that would be opened in every student’s name “to develop the value of saving” among them, Go added.
Luistro said the recycling program would also be used as a learning-by-doing method.
Weighing recyclables, for instance, could be integrated in mathematics or science lessons, he said.
Luistro added that the program would eventually be implemented in the provinces.
The Ecosavers program is just one of several green initiatives underway to cut the country’s garbage output, according to Paje.
To date, some 340 corporations have “adopted” some 200 river systems nationwide for cleanup efforts.