Household waste disposal can be money-making, money-saving and job creating. Just like what they are doing in Las Pinas City.
We were invited on Feb. 7, 2012 to see the different waste disposal and livelihood programs being undertaken in Las Pinas City largely through the initiative of former Congresswoman Cynthia A. Villar through the Villar Foundation.
One of her pet projects is converting the kitchen and market wastes into organic fertilizer. In Brgy. Pamplona II, we visited the biggest composting facility in the city administered by Roberto Villalon, a former chairman of the barangay.
He showed us six big rotary steel composters, each of which can convert the raw materials into organic fertilizer in 7 days. Each composter can produce 700 to 1,000 kilos of organic fertilizer a month.
Actually, the composting facility in Pamplona II is just one of the 29 composting facilities now operating in 20 barangays of Las Pinas. There is at least one composter in one barangay.
Mrs. Villar said that they sell the compost at only P3 per kilo or P120 for a 40-kilo bag. This is much cheaper than the other organic fertilizers usually sold in the market.
Among the buyers are a group of farmers from Nueva Ecija who use the organic fertilizer in producing organic vegetables, fruits and other crops like rice.
Mrs. Villar explained that the establishment of composting facilities in the different barangays is one way of maintaining a clean environment Aside from the fact that te city government saves a lot of money from hauling the garbage in the community to the dumpsite in San Pedro, Laguna.
She said the composting facilities help reduce the garbage that has to be disposed to the dumpsite which is very costly. She said that the government spends about P11,000 per truck of garbage delivered to the dumpsite. Six thousand pesos is paid per trip of the truck that hauls the garbage. Then there is the tipping fee of P5,000 to be paid to the owner of the private dumpsite.
The composting projet is also providing livelihood to the residents in the different villages. There are part time workers who collect the garbage from each house six days of the week. They load the kitchen wastes and other garbage in large buckets that are tightly sealed. And the 70 garbage collectors load them in their pedal-powered tricycles.
The raw garbage passes through a presser so that the excess moisture is removed. Then these are mixed with other ingredients such as coco peat or coir dust which makes the resulting compost very friable and excellent for enriching the soil for planting various crops.
By the way, the coco coir dust that is incorporated in the organic fertilizer is a byproduct of another livelihood-generating project of Mrs. Villar. This is the production of what they call coco net which is used in erosion control.
In the coco net project the workers gather the buko husks thrown away by those selling young coconut or “buko” in many parts of Metro Manila. The coconut husks are decorticated and the fiber collected for making coco net.
In retrospect, Mrs. Villar said it was not easy to convince the residents to segregate their household wastes into biodegradable and non-biodegradable. About 75 percent of the residents didn’t want to adopt the segregation system because that was something new to them. They thought that was impractical and it only added more work to the people in the households.
Mrs. Villar, however, persisted. She asked the religious people to help her convince the homemakers and family men to do garbage segregation in their homes.
Today, however, after the residents have seen the benefits of segregating the biodegradable from the non-biodegradable wastes, they have become advocates of the practice.