20 tons of campaign materials being collected daily; poses environmental risks

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2022 05:00 PM

 People pass by various campaign posters along C. P. Garcia in Quezon City on April 27, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
People pass by various campaign posters along C. P. Garcia in Quezon City on April 27, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA — The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday said it has collected up to 20 tons of campaign materials since election day, just as it urged all candidates to help clean up the potential environment hazard. 

MMDA Chairman Romando Artes said they would turn the collected posters over to Ecowaste Coalition, which upcycles thick tarpaulins into eco-bags, aprons, covers, among other things.

The thinner ones would be shredded to become part of MMDA's eco-brick project, he added.

"Napakarami po talaga ng mga campaign materials na nakukuha natin... Sa isang araw po siguro nakaka-18 to 20 tons po tayo ng campaign paraphernalia," said Artes in a televised briefing.

(We have collected a lot of campaign materials. In one day we have collected around 18 to 20 tons of campaign paraphernalia.)

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged both winning and losing candidates to help clean up campaign materials within this week, saying local government units must ensure its proper disposal in line with environmental laws.

"Campaign propaganda made of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, if improperly disposed of, may have detrimental effects on public health and the environment," the statement read.

"We have done our part in exercising our right to vote. Let’s continue to participate in governance through our simple ways of cleaning up our neighborhood from election litter,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

ENVIRONMENTAL RISK

Some campaign paraphernalia are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC plastics. An analysis by Greenpeace USA had described PVC as the "most environmentally damaging of all plastic" that even recycling it would be "impractical" because of the harms through its additives. 

The Ecowaste Coalition, meanwhile, urged the public to limit the upcycling of tarpaulins for non-food and non-child purposes because some materials contain hazardous content. 

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These include cadmium and phthalates, "which may leach and contaminate the food or expose children to chemical risks," said the environment group.

"To make the reusing or repurposing of campaign materials easier, the group reiterated its plea to prohibit the use of cadmium, phthalates and other toxic chemical additives in plastics and for the authorities to require the use of recyclable, non-toxic campaign materials in future elections," they said.

ABS-CBN News has discussed the dangers of some upcycling methods extensively here

Artes said the campaign materials should be removed before it becomes a problem for the environment.

"Tayo ay nananawagan na rin po sa ating mga kandidato whether or not nanalo or natalo na tumulong po sa pagbabaklas nitong mga campaign materials na ito para sa gayon ito po ay hindi kumalat at eventually mauwi sa mga kanals o sa mga esteros na pagmumulan o magiging sanhi ng pagbaha pagdating ng tag-ulan," he said. 

(We are calling on our candidates, those who won or not, to help the removal of these campaign materials so these do not end up in waterways that may cause flooding.)

A study last year showed that the Philippines is the worst plastic polluter in the oceans, contributing to over a third of the global plastic waste, even surpassing economic giants in Asia like India and China. 

Seven of 10 major polluting rivers were located in the Philippines, with Pasig River identified as the top plastic pollution source.

Filipinos use an average of 48 million plastic bags daily, translating to 17.5 billion pieces a year, a study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has shown.