by: Demee Angelica S. Ludia
Change has been imposed.
Last February 16, 2015, new garbage collection days in Barangay Batong Malake Los Baños, Laguna were implemented, departing from the daily collection that residents have been accustomed to. Under this change, biodegradable wastes are collected only three times a week, namely on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Among those affected by the new garbage collection days are the several food establishments in the busy entrepreneur friendly street of Raymundo in Batong Malake.
For Nina Martin, owner of Beeyanka’s Mini Restaurant, this new barangay ruling is the root cause of the foul smell and increasing number of flies in her kitchen which made her wish for the old schedule back. According to her, “Mas maganda sana yung araw-araw.” However, other people saw the change as an opportunity. For Susan Cadapan of the establishment Cadapan’s and May Beneverte of Tofi’s Canteen, the change in garbage collection days is just an avenue for them to showcase the different garbage disposal techniques that their enterprises have already been practicing.
Negative Side: Foul smell and Flies All Around
Sanitation is one vital aspect in a business, and NIna of Beeyanka’s Mini Restaurant takes this to heart. She makes sure that her establishment is free from dirt, trash, and garbage. Thus, she sees the new garbage collection days as a hindrance for her to continue with her practice because this new barangay ruling only served to increase the volume of unmanageable garbage dumped outside of the building just below their second-floor kitchen.
Beeyanka’s Mini Restaurant’s kitchen is located at the end part of the commercial space. From this spot, anyone can directly get a view of the whole compound. The second-floor kitchen is strategically near an open area that gives enough room for the smells of food being cooked to quickly disappear and not irritate or cause inconvenience among neighboring establishments. The problem, though, is that the kitchen is directly above the compound’s mini-dump site.
According to Nina, the change in garbage collection days has increased the volume of garbage stacked in their compound’s dump site, strengthened the stench or foul smell that reaches the kitchen, and attracted a greater number of flies in the area. She also said that these problems caused management to stop serving fish and meat because both easily absorb the foul smell.
Nina’s concern reached Batong Malake Barangay Chairman Janos Lapiz who said that he does not see why the change in garbage collection can be a major problem. He believes that the issue boils down to an establishment’s proper waste segregation and management.
“Nasa kanila naman yan eh, kung (binabalot) nila ng maayos yung basura nila, hindi na lalangawin yan,” he said.
Garbage Disposal Techniques
The stance of Beeyanka’s Mini Restaurant does not represent the stand of the whole population of food establishments in the Raymundo Area. For Nina, the new garbage collection days spelled trouble, but for Susan and May, the seeming problem was just a matter of improvisation and a simple act of following rules.
Susan and May shared some tips or techniques that have their respective establishments to combat the effects of the new garbage collection days:
Improvise. If the establishment worries about the additional cost of buying more garbage bins, they may opt to re-use and improvise possible garbage cans.
Tofi’s Canteen, owned by May, is currently using recycled aluminum cans of cooking oil and sacks of rice as additional trash bins. Through this method, the establishment saves up on the additional cost of purchasing bins and benefits from non-accumulation of trash.
Private Dump Sites. If an establishment owns an unutilized space, it can be used as the business’ own garbage disposal site.
According to Susan, Cadapan’s did not suffer from the change in garbage collection. When asked why, she said that they were able to improvise by using an open space behind their restaurant building as a small site. She revealed that Cadapan’s has already been doing that for years. The trick is to segregate trashes, have designated spaces for each type, and dispose off the garbage regularly. In their case, garbage disposal is only on Saturdays, but this once-a-week schedule does not require them to sacrifice their establishment’s sanitation.
Abide by the Waste Segregation Law. Go back to the basics, segregate wastes properly.
According to Susan and May, the methods practiced by their establishments were effective because they practice proper segregation and disposal. They said that following basic rules will help one solve complex problems.
How the new schedule came to be
Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 has long been implemented. As Barangay Chairman Lapiz explained, “Nakasaad sa batas na iyon (na) ang pangunahing may responsibilidad sa pagcontain ng basura sa bawat barangay ay ang pamahalaang barangay. Yun yung primary na agency na dapat mangasiwa sa pangongolekta nito.”
For the past years, the municipal government has been doing the work of collecting garbage in Batong Malake because the barangay lacks the facilities to commit to this responsibility. The barangay leadership finally purchased a dump truck in December 2014. The said truck in intended not only for garbage collection but also for disaster and rescue activities.
The newly purchased dump truck also signified the barangay’s independence from the rulings of the municipal government in terms of garbage collection, hence the new garbage collection days. The reasons for the schedule, according to Chairman Lapiz, are financial resources and desire for efficiency.
Using its own truck required the barangay to allot budget for gasoline and salary for the barangay garbage collectors. Less collection days means lower expenses. Also, the three-day schedule prompted residents to improve their waste management.
In just one month into the new schedule, Chairman Lapiz proudly shared the significant results his administration has noted. According to him, the daily garbage collection usually had the collectors starting at 8 PM and ending by 3 AM but the new schedule shortened the collection time to only up to 1 AM. He attributed this to the lower volume of waste collected because of the residents’ compliance with the proper waste segregation.
A document entitled “A Breakthrough in Solid Waste Management through Participation and Community Mobilization: The Experience of Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines” brands Los Baños as one of the model towns in solid waste management for developing countries. It describes how participation and community mobilization serve as effective tools toward the conversion of the former dumpsite of the municipality of Los Baños into an Ecological Waste Processing Center during the administration of Mayor Caesar Perez. The main idea behind the innovative changes is the belief of Mayor Perez that “Garbage problem is not sole responsibility of the government; the citizens must do their share on proper waste disposal.” The municipality is now known as a pioneer in terms of proper waste segregation.
The challenge for Batong Malake is to continue involving residents in these initiatives.