DAVAO CITY – Assorted solid wastes, mostly single-use plastics (SUPs), have been polluting the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed in Baguio District here, which is among the city’s top sources of potable water.

IDIS1 875x1024 - Single-use plastics polluting major Davao City watershed – environment group
Assorted wastes were recovered during a river clean-up and brand audit at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed in Baguio District, Davao City last September 26. (Photo courtesy of Interface Development Interventions/ MANILA BULLETIN)

This was disclosed by Davao City-based environmental group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) Executive Director Chinkie P. Golle, who expressed alarm when 1,713 pieces of assorted solid wastes, mostly food and household product packaging, including and, bottles, glass, cigarettes, face masks, and plastics, were recovered in a river clean-up drive and brand audit at the watershed last September 26.

“We raised this issue during the Watershed Management Council meeting last week. We need to remind the barangay local government units to strictly implement and monitor the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Ordinance, and also to regulate the local tourists who go there for swimming, and leaving their wastes behind,” she added.

She said that brand audits involved counting and documenting the product brands that are polluting the environment, which would be used as a tool to hold consumer good companies accountable for their contribution to the global waste problem.

She said results showed how widespread and damaging the impact of “throwaway plastic business model” was to the environment.

“The result of this brand audit shows that there is an alarming increase of wastes in one of the most important watersheds in Davao City—the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed,” she said.

She said various groups also participated in the activity, including Break Free from Plastics, Ecowaste Coalition, and Sustainable Davao Movement, Bantay Bukid and Bantayo Aweg volunteers, and officials of Barangay Tawan-Tawan.

Sixty-seven percent of the total wastes were food wraps and packages, 12 percent were detergent, shampoo and chemical sachets, 10 percent plastic bottles and cups and residual, while the rest were cans, sanitary napkins, diapers, cigarette butts, plastic bags, glass bottles, gloves, face masks, slippers, straws, and others wastes.

She urged the local government authorities to impose regulations and ensure to implement proper waste management in the area.

The environmentalist renewed calls for the enactment of the proposed ordinance, banning the SUPs in the City Council and full implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance in accordance with the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The group recommended the use of more eco-friendly alternative packaging for products such as biodegradable or paper-based sachets and push for initiatives on bulk selling and refilling stations or “refilling” variety or sari-sari stores.

“IDIS and other NGO’s also urge the public to properly dispose of their garbage and avoid using single-use plastics. Such small efforts are a big help to conserve and protect the environment,” she said.

The P12-billion Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project (DCBWSP) of the Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc., a joint venture between Aboitiz Equity Ventures and J.V. Angeles Construction Corporation, would tap the watershed to become the next water source of the city, which will have the capacity to supply over 300 million liters of water daily upon its completion in 2021.

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