Full cycle of waste recycling

>> Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ike Señeres

The real beginning of the full cycle of recycling should be the regulation of consumer packaging, so that post consumer waste (PCW) should not add up as it should. As far as I know however, there is no government agency that is actively regulating the materials used in consumer packaging, not even the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and not even the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Perhaps somehow the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) could get into the act, but that does not seem to be in the consciousness of the DOST either. To some extent, some Local Government Units (LGUs) have succeeded in regulating the use of plastic bags, but the credit for that could not possibly be given to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The next venue in the cycle of recycling is actually the consumer households where consumer packaging becomes PCW as soon as the products are opened or used. It is at that point where recyclables should be separated from the PCW, before these are thrown as useless garbage.
It is important for all of us to understand that useful PCWs should not be thrown into the useless garbage, and that is actually the purpose of recycling. Yes, that is the reason why it is called recycling, because the intention is to separate the useless from the useful, so that the latter could be flowed back into the supply chain of raw materials for the production of new consumer packaging.
Not unless that active separation is done, there is no recycling that would happen, and the supply chain does not move forward.
In a manner of speaking, it could be said that the term recyclable should refer to all PCW that has a commercial value, while on the other hand, everything else that could not be recycled are those that do not have a commercial value.
For the most part, it could be said that the bulk of PCW would have commercial value, one way or the other. As I see it, only the hazardous waste would have no commercial value, aside from the kitchen waste of course. In reality however, hazardous waste could still have commercial value as fuel for waste-to-energy power plants, and kitchen waste could still have commercial value either as raw materials for compost fertilizer or as food for earthworms as part of vermiculture projects.
Down the line, the earthworms could be used as protein materials for animal feeds, and the vermicasts become first class organic fertilizer, more valuable than compost fertilizer.

In theory, there should be nothing left to be thrown into the dumpsites and landfills, if only the full cycle of recycling is diligently done. It is ironic to note however that our LGUs are spending millions of pesos to thrown the garbage into the dumpsites and landfills, when in fact there is supposed to be no garbage anymore, if only proper segregation and proper recycling are done.
Although it could be said that Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) could be useful in the overall process of waste management, there is actually no more need for MRFs anymore, again if only proper segregation and proper recycling are done. Just to expound further on what I said, there is no more need to recover the materials from the garbage, if only segregation and recycling were properly done in the first place. As a matter of fact, there should practically be no more garbage left, if only proper segregation and proper recycling are done in the first place.
As it is supposed to be, the Mayors are supposed to be the ones responsible for Solid Waste Management (SWM) in their own LGUs. Well, it seems that that would have to remain as a theory, because in actual practice, there appears to be a real conflict between what the Mayors are supposed to do, and what they are going to do with the kickbacks that are being allocated for them by the garbage haulers and the dumpsite operators.
It is no secret really that many Mayors are making a lot of money from these kickbacks, because they are paid based on the number of hauling trips which also the same number of dumps made into the dumpsites. What this really means is that the more recycling is done, the lesser hauling trips there would be, and therefore that would also mean lesser kickbacks to the corrupt Mayors.
It is frustrating to hear that some Mayors would argue that illegal gambling is a lesser crime compared to illegal drugs because no one gets killed in the former, suggesting that it is more tolerable; a reason perhaps why some of them would either sponsor or harbor the gambling lords.
If that is the way that they think, then they should really clamp down on illegal dumping of garbage, because a lot of people are dying from the harmful effects of the toxic gases that are escaping from the dumpsites into the air.
If that is the way they think, then perhaps they should not think of illegal dumping as a lesser crime, because many people are actually dying because of that crime. Oh yes, all dumpsites are now illegal, and therefore it is already a crime to dump garbage into them. For feedback email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639956441780


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