PH state university faces waste crisis
LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA, Philippines, July 24 -- The University of the Philippines Los Baños is now encouraging its students, faculty and staff to be more disciplined in waste management as the state university faces a waste management crisis.
UPLB Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. issued Memorandum No. 005, Series of 2012 on July 11 to guide the UPLB community about how they should manage their wastes after Pook Kalikasan, a waste management facility inside the university which was operated by the Waste and Resources Management, Inc. (WARM), was closed down by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The memo said that only residuals – wastes that cannot be used again anymore such as sachets, styrofoam, foil packs, sanitary napkins and diapers, ceramics, and other unusable wastes, and recyclables will be collected by UPLB’s waste collectors. Biodegradable wastes must be put into a compost bin, the memo added, as these will not be collected anymore.
Residuals will be collected from Monday to Thursday, while recyclable wastes will be collected on Friday. Wastes will be collected from UPCO Housing and Upper Campus from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., respectively. Wastes from the Lower Campus will be collected from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the memo said.
The dumpsite was closed down three weeks after the memorandum was issued by OVCPD.
The waste facility was closed down because it violated Republic Act 9003, or the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which states that open dump sites must be closed down in favor of building materials recovery facilities and sanitary landfills.
A memorandum of agreement between UPLB and WARM signed on July 31, 2001 said that WARM should “operate a composting facility within UPLB’s existing 2-hectare facility” located at Paciano Rizal, Bay, Laguna. This two-hectare facility was closed down by DENR.
Ledinila Dalupang, a project development coordinator at the UPLB Resource Generation and Development Office (RGDO), said that WARM accepted unsegregated wastes from nearby municipality of Bay.
“The wastes they collected from Bay piled up and were just wrapped with plastic. If those wastes were buried in soil, just like in a sanitary landfill, it would be okay. However, the wastes really piled up,” she said in Filipino.
Dr. Ruben Tanqueco, Physical Plant and Management Services Office (PPMSO) Director, said in a phone interview that the university’s wastes are being brought to Pilotage Waste Management Corp. in San Pedro, Laguna.
Tanqueco admitted that the paying for expenses is a major problem in UPLB’s current waste management situation. "If you are going to bring our garbage to San Pedro, we need [to pay for our] tipping fees, we need toll fees, at the employees' per diem," he explained.
He added that the university is delivering about 12 cubic meters of waste per day in San Pedro.
Tanqueco added that they are planning to build a materials recovery facility (MRF) soon.
Dalupang said that UPLB has only a month to deliver their wastes to San Pedro. UPLB must invite bidders in order for the university to find a facility where wastes will be delivered.
“We started [delivering wastes to San Pedro last] July 3. So by August 3, a bidding process must be done, as it is a requirement of COA [Commission on Audit],” she said in Filipino.
Susan Tolentino, another project development officer for RGDO, said that the new trash bins placed around the campus last academic year were brought back to PPMSO office after the office’s ground works and garbage division reported that outsiders throw their wastes inside the university.
“When nobody is around, they dump their wastes from their car trunk [to our trash bins],” Tolentino shared the garbage division’s reports in Filipino
She also said they received reports that scavengers take away the black bags attached to UPLB’s trash bins."Because there are trash bins installed, more wastes are collected, because that's where outsiders dump their waste," she said.
However, some of these trash bins are still situated in some parts of the university, especially within the vicinity of the Student Union Building and Freedom Park.
Severino Canapit, a waste collector, said that they have no problems with collecting garbage inside the university because of the issuance of the memorandum from OVCPD. "In Forestry [UPLB's upper campus], they complied to the rules right away," he said in Filipino.
Canapit also said that UPCO and Forestry residents follow the new segregation rules. However, when asked about dormitories, he said, "Their wastes are not yet segregated. Next week, they have to follow the new rules."
He admits, however, that bringing the university’s wastes to San Pedro is hard. “Especially when it rains, our vehicles get stuck on the road. And one more thing, it's very far. That's why, if possible, a sanitary landfill must be built in UP,” he lamented in Filipino.
Dalupang said that the UPLB waste crisis serves as a wake-up call for the university. “The good thing [with this waste crisis], because of it, management decisions were made... a committee [for solid waste management] was formed,” she said in Filipino.
This reporter tried to contact WARM’s office in Los Baños for a statement, but their phone lines are having circuit problems.