Government should learn form Payatas tragedy - Greenpeace

Group urges government to do the right thing

Press release - July 15, 2000
The international environmental group Greenpeace today said that the Payatas tragedy should rouse Philippine government officials from their "deadly fixation on dirty garbage disposal practices", stressing that the best way to move forward out of this calamity is for the government to start implementing the right set of solutions to the waste crisis namely source separation, recycling and composting.

The international environmental group Greenpeace today said that the Payatas tragedy should rouse Philippine government officials from their "deadly fixation on dirty garbage disposal practices", stressing that the best way to move forward out of this calamity is for the government to start implementing the right set of solutions to the waste crisis namely source separation, recycling and composting.

"Source separation and recycling will not only generate more employment to boost the local economy, it will also make the jobs of scavengers far more safer, healthy and rewarding as the need to climb and dig waste mountains for recyclables would be eliminated," said Von Hernandez, toxics campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The group likewise denounced suggestions from several legislators to construct more landfills and resurrect trash incinerator proposals to address Metro Manila's burgeoning waste problems. Greenpeace emphasized that the government should channel' its energies instead into real solutions beginning with community organizing, public education and the institutionalization of recycling.

"We cannot correct a disaster with another disaster. Landfills and incinerators are toxic time bombs whose impacts may not be immediately evident but the environmental repercussions associated with both are just as pernicious if not more damaging than open dumpsites. The only difference is that landfills and incinerators kill people in slow motion," added Hernandez.

Earlier this year, Greenpeace activists climbed the Payatas dumpsite and unfurled banners which read "Next Time ...Try Recycling" to underscore the group's opposition to the opening of new dumpsites and landfills in the country .At that time, the group also disclosed results of scientific tests it conducted on leachate from the Carmona landfill and Payatas which showed high levels of toxic heavy metals chromium, copper and 'lead. The group found leachate from both dumps flowing into nearby water systems raising fears that contamination of critical groundwater sources may already be occurring.

"Payatas should be an object lesson to our decision-makers about the futility of back-end approaches to the garbage crisis. If the government wants to redeem itself from this dreadful calamity, it must begin the process of involving companies and communities in the implementation of waste minimization and ecological waste management programs. Our decision-makers should realize that when it comes to waste, there are no magic bullets," said Hernandez.

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