National eco-savers program

THERE’S a good sense to the effort pooled by at least four government agencies headed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources when they introduced the National Eco-Savers Program.

With that, Metro Manila’s public school students will now be able to exchange their recyclables for school supplies or even cash, says DENR chief Ramon Paje as he hails the massive cooperation thrown by the Department of Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Metro Manila Development Authority to the project.

The goal of the program was to have every school establish an ecological solid waste recovery system, thereby reducing solid waste being collected from schools and households.

“By establishing some form of incentive for managing their solid wastes, we are encouraging students to sort their waste and minimize the generation of garbage in their homes. Participating students will get something useful, possibly even cash, in exchange for the recyclables they turn in to their schools,” says Secretary Paje.

Under the program, an incentive mechanism is being formulated where students will be issued an “Ecosavers Club Passbook” to record the credit points they earn from their recyclable materials. The recyclables will then be pooled for final collection by accredited junk shops or recyclers.

NEP’s initial phase would be implemented in 763 public elementary and high schools in Metro Manila involving some 1.9 million students, according to the DENR.

The four government agencies are taking the right path for actively implementing Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act by mobilizing public schools, among others, for the purpose.

Actually, the partnership for the NEP implementation had been formalized earlier in June when a memorandum of agreement was signed among the DENR, DepEd, MMDA, DILG and the Galing Pook Foundation (GPF), a non-government organization.

Based on the MOA, the DENR takes the lead in the provision of technical, monitoring and funding support, with the DepEd handling the training of principals and teachers on the implementation of the program while the DILG and MMDA would take the lead in the collection of processed garbage materials in coordination  with  accredited recycling firms and junk shops.

For its part, GPF committed to replicate best SWM practices it has documented nationwide through its 20 years of giving recognition to top performing local governments.

The MOA defined the NEP as having six components: education by integrating SWM concepts in school curricula; capability building of students, educators and the community; monitoring and evaluation of the program’s impact; advocacy and networking with other stakeholders and service providers, such as recyclers; convergence and complementation with the NGP; and sustainability.

Secretary Paje has committed a P50-million funding for the initial implementation of the project in Metro Manila where garbage generation stands at 8,000 tons per day.   To ensure sustainability, it would be better for the program to facilitate pooling of resources among the partner agencies as well as MM’s 17 local government units and recyclers from the private sector.

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