THE RESUMPTION of classes provides a very good opportunity to renew interest and support for school-oriented ecological solid waste management (ESWM) principles and practices.
Yes, school administrators must strengthen current efforts promoting ESWM in the school system with the support of the faculty, non-academic personnel, students, and parents.
The effective implementation of waste management in our schools will go a long way in instilling environmental awareness and sensitivity, especially among our young learners. After all, Department Order (D.O.) 5, Series of 2014 issued by the Department of Education provides for the “Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Gulayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management and Tree Planting Under the National Greening Program (NGP).” According to the said guidelines, “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action among the students.”
Among the activities to be conducted in schools as per D.O. 5 include: Prohibition of littering and burning of wastes; Avoidance of single-use disposable products and packaging materials such as plastic bags, straws, spoons, forks and paper cups and plates; Promotion of trash-free “baon”; Establishment of composting system to process biodegradable wastes; Use of recyclables as seed beds in the nursery or garden; Use of reusable food containers in school canteens; and Avoidance of consumables such as bottled water, coffee, sugar and creamer in sachets in events and meetings.
D.O. 5 also calls for the designation of an area within the school as a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The MRF can serve as a storage area for discards that can still be repaired and reused, as a collection area for different recyclables such as bottles, cans and plastic containers, and as a temporary place for keeping residual trash such as non-recyclable and non-compostable discards.
We hope that Education secretary Leonor Briones will give D.O. 5 a shot in the arm by issuing a circular reiterating its importance and the need for its full implementation.