MANILA, Philippines—The burning of garbage in one’s backyard is among the common practices the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) hopes to put an end to following an agreement with several cities to minimize toxic emissions from household trash.
The DENR on Thursday signed a deal with the mayors of the cities of Butuan, Bacolod, Cabanatuan, Legazpi, General Santos and Iloilo to formalize their participation in the Integrated Persistent Organic Pollutants Project or IPOPS, officials said.
The mayors committed themselves to reducing pollutants called “dioxins” and “furans” in their respective localities not only in backyards but in their cities’ dumps.
“Dioxins and furans are two of what we call the ‘dirty dozen’ chemicals whose worldwide use and production are strictly covered by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants signed in 2001 because of their long-term serious impact on the environment and public health,” said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje in a statement.
But unlike the other chemicals on the list, dioxins and furans are “unintentional pollutants,” as they are byproducts of incomplete combustion, or burning, of materials such as household garbage, Paje said.
“The emissions or usok (smoke) that we create whenever we burn our garbage in our backyards, and also as a result of the spontaneous combustion in open dumps, contain these two chemicals,” he said.
He said that according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the two chemicals were likely “cancer causing substances to human.”
Under the agreement, the city governments will stop the practice of burning garbage in dumps, rehabilitate them and resort to using landfills. They will also prevent the practice of open burning in backyards and other public places.
The DENR will provide assistance to the local government units (LGU) through “disposal windows” or “collection windows,” Paje said.
A disposal window is designed to prevent burning by providing for soil cover and gas vents for landfills, bulldozers and chain link fences, and subsequently the development of the closed dump.
On the other hand, the collection window is aimed at teaching households not to burn their own garbage. It would also enable LGUs to monitor compliance as well as to receive garbage collection trucks, collection stations, composting equipment and funds for their maintenance.