Contributed and authored by Lea Fenix, Philippines (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Charlie wakes up at 5 o’clock in the morning, hopped on his bicycle-cart and makes rounds within the barangay (village) where he lives collecting segregated garbage from the households. Once he finishes collection, he would put the garbage inside plastic garbage bins, classifying further into three types of waste: recyclables, bio-degradable and residuals. These garbage bins are picked up by the city garbage trucks and ended in the city’s dumpsite. When the sanitary landfill starts operating, city’s garbage will have to be thrown in this facility thereby closing the old dumpsite.
Everyday Charlie does this as a way of supporting his small family earning at least P 150 to P 200 ($30-40) daily by selling the recyclable materials which the households would give to him instead of selling them to the junkshops. Some residents also voluntarily give him small amounts in return for picking up their garbage.
For 13 years, Charlie earns his living by plying passengers through his pedicab (a bicycle with a side cart enough to transport 2 persons, a means of transportation within inner streets of the city). Now, Charlie has become one of the 270 eco-aides in a major city in the Philippines collecting segregated garbage from households as the city practises ecological solid waste management.
The project was funded by the Agencia Espaňola de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) or the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation in line with the Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act of the Philippines enacted in 2001. Eco-aides like Charlie were selected by their village council to help in the collection of segregated garbage from the households.
In the 49 villages covered by the project, the waste generation and disposal system and problems were identified through consultation with residents and village officials in order to design a more appropriate collection system. Information and education campaign (IEC) activities are being done such as radio plugging, dissemination of leaflets containing information on how to segregate garbage to further to continuously instilled the discipline of segregation. Just lately they have organized themselves and elected their own set of officers.
The city has already passed ordinance requiring business owners and operators to undergo seminar on solid waste management before issuing business permits. A seminar-workshop was done for business sector to identify actions they can do to pursue solid waste management as a way of practising social responsibility.
Also, the schools will integrate the solid waste management in their curriculum through different modules from first to sixth grades. Comics for these pupils will also be issued to further enhance understanding of elementary pupils on ecologically managing waste through this popular medium.
Charlie said that he’s happy with being an eco-aide, aside from the fact that he received a monthly honorarium from the city, he gets other usable items that he is able to use personally from the garbage that the village people throw such as old toys, thermos and videos… truly supporting the truth that garbage is a resource at the wrong place.