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MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas has filed a bill that will allow people to exchange recyclable trash for cash aid and basic necessities.
According to Vargas, the proposed Basura to Ayuda Act (House Bill No. 9781) seeks to continue the government’s solid waste management program while providing aid to citizens affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Vargas explained that rewards and incentives under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 had “limitations and must be innovated to adapt to the needs of the new normal.”
“The social and economic climate brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges on food security and environmental protection,” Vargas said.
He noted that the increase in consumption during the pandemic also caused an increase in the production of solid wastes.
Quarantine restrictions also affected the implementation of solid waste management programs in some local governments.
“But the environment must not be a victim of the pandemic. We can continue to promote segregation and concern for our environment while helping those in need” Vargas said.
He said the bill would “institutionalize innovative efforts” to incentivize solid waste management and recycling by allowing residents to trade in their garbage for “basic commodities such as rice, eggs, vegetables, canned goods, basic household consumer items, other essential grocery items, or even cash.”
In filing the bill, Vargas drew inspiration from Quezon City’s Trash to Cashback Program, which allows city residents to trade in recyclable materials for “environmental points” that they can then use to redeem essential grocery items.
Under the bill, the value of trash to be exchanged will be determined through an Incentivized Solid Waste Redemption System by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The bill will also allow civic associations, parents-teachers associations, homeowners associations, and nonprofit institutions to trade in their recyclable and nonhazardous solid wastes.
The bill will also task the DENR, DA, and DTI to establish Hazardous Waste Recovery Protocols and a reporting system under which individuals can report to the proper government agencies the location of the suspected hazardous wastes for recovery.
For private and government-owned corporations, the DENR, DTI, and Department of Finance will then be tasked to draft a Carbon Credits System for reducing carbon emissions, among other incentives.
“Many of our citizens still find it difficult to meet their daily needs even with help from the government,” Vargas said.
“With this bill, we are proposing yet another way to provide help for our fellow Filipinos during this pandemic by incentivizing the collection and turnover of solid waste materials,” he added.
Meanwhile, as of Aug. 25, the government has
completed 80% of its distribution of cash aid
in Metro Manila, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The aid was meant to cushion the economic impact of the two-week enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, which ended on Aug. 20 but was extended until Aug. 31.
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