0213B: Make Recycling Easy

During the drive home, our conversation about the number of new cars on the road led to me thinking about how we dispose of the old ones. And because our brains are full of slippery slopes, that eventually led me to ponder the lack of recyling centers in this country.

Now I tried to ask the question of what people do when they want to recycle stuff and the general answer was to go to a junk shop. I tried searching online for recycling centers in Metro Manila the best resource I could find was this sub-page part of the Papemelroti website listing various junk shops and other establishments that take stuff for recycling purposes. These sorts of lists are helpful, but they also just indicate that we don't really have an organized recycling program in place.

RA 9003 - The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 is a pretty lengthy law that generally requires everyone to segregate their waste and for the local government to ensure there are recycling programs and related efforts to reduce sources of waste. Recently in the news it was announced that 50 mayors and 500 other local officials called to explain why the were still operating open landfills as opposed to the appropriate segregation and recycling facilities. None of the officials were from Metro Manila and these do not immediately count as criminal charges of any sort. Just a preliminary investigation to determine if charges should be filed. But it's recognized as the first major effort to try to enforce RA 9003.

When we were living in the US back in the 80's, I remember bringing along bags of empty aluminum cans to the supermarket to use the recycling machine right outside the store. It was an easy, convenient way to encourage direct participation in the recycling effort and the technology has obviously been in place for over 30 years now. But we rely on scavengers and junk shops.

Even though we are sometimes required to segregate our garbage, we still rely on garbage collectors to handle the heavy lifting and to figure out what to do. We often leave things to sorting between biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste with all the recyclables going to the landfills to be sorted by scavengers. I know citizen-facing recycling centers are probably difficult to setup and of course costly to maintain (the initial excuse cited by the aforementioned 500+ government officials) and unless we seriously invest in such programs, nothing is going to really happen.