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Ecowaste Coalition urges gov’t, citizens to support decentralized composting

By Jason Faustino
05/07/2012 [ tribune.net.ph ]

An advocate for zero waste resource management has urged the government and the citizens to rally behind a proven solution to society’s chronic problem with stinking garbage, toxic gases and depleted soils: decentralized composting.

The EcoWaste Coalition yesterday gave a big push to the biological breaking down of organic discards as the International Composting Awareness Week is observed from May 6 to 12.

“The intensive composting of biodegradable discards at all areas and levels of waste generation can dramatically reduce the volume of discards assigned for disposal by at least 50 per cent in most cities and municipalities,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Project officer of EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the entire country generates some 35,430 tons of waste per day, of which some 8,000 tons come from Metro Manila.

Of these, 50 percent are food and other organic discards, 25 percent plastics, 12 percent paper, 5 percent metals, 3 percent glass, 1 percent hazardous waste and 4 percent residual waste.

“Decentralized composting will translate to millions of savings for our cash-strapped local government units due to avoided disposal costs,” she pointed out.

“By separating organic discards at source, we reduce the risk of contaminating recyclable materials and, as a result, increase the value of recyclables and make them safer for waste workers to handle and recycle,” she added.

“Composting further reduces the emission of greenhouse gases such as methane, which is about 70 times stronger than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat, by keeping food, garden, farm and other organic discards out of dumpsites and landfills,” she said.

The country has over a thousand waste disposal facilities, including 1,027 open and controlled dumpsites long forbidden by Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, as well as “sanitary” landfills, cement kilns and incinerators, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Citing information from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap), the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the benefits of applying compost as fertilizer in agriculture.

According to the Unescap’s Sustainable Urban Development Section, compost:

1. Lightens heavy soils, allowing better infiltration of both air and water.

2. Enhances and improves the soil’s structure so that it becomes less subject to erosion by either water or wind.

3. Adds nutrients and trace materials to the soil, stimulating biological activity and encouraging vigorous plant rooting systems.

4. Enables soil to retain nutrients and moisture, preventing them from being leached out of the soil and into the ground water.

“With composting, we lessen our dependence to chemical farming and agriculture, while producing safe organic food for our people,” Vergara said.

“It will surely boost the implementation of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, especially in rural areas, provided the compost is clean and free of toxics,” she added.
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