MANILA—To prevent campaign tarpaulins from ending in garbage piles, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday handed over seven tons of illegally posted campaign materials confiscated from various parts of Metro Manila to environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition.
The Ecowaste Coalition is set to reuse and recycle these campaign materials.
During a ceremony held at the agency’s headquarters, MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez and MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group Francis Martinez turned over the tarpaulins to the environmental group, which is working with the government to promote “Basura-Free Elections.”
Since its implementation on Feb. 9, the agency’s ‘Oplan Baklas’ has yielded five truckloads of campaign tarpaulins which are posted outside the common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections.
Non-common poster areas include footbridges, lamp posts, electrical wires and trees.
Martinez also said that most of the collected tarpaulins came from big cities such as Manila and Quezon City.
“We recheck the places we have already cleared, Let’s say we went there on the first day, after two days we go back to see whether there are new post on areas we have already cleared,” Martinez told reporters.
Meanwhile, Jimenez appealed to the candidates to help in putting down campaign posters after the elections.
In addition, she said such joint effort of the MMDA and the group will be greatly helpful in protecting the environment.
“It’s good that these tarpaulins will be converted, instead of throwing them to landfills, to bags, baskets. We believe in our partnership with Ecowaste Coalition,” Jimenez said, adding that the agency has been deputized by the Comelec to remove illegal posted materials.
“If our candidates are responsible, they should know what are the rules as far as putting their posters are concerned,” Jimenez added.
“What I am saying is, politicians’ or candidates’ handlers should educate themselves about where it is lawfull to post (campaign posters and tarpaulins), because implementing rules and regulations is also needed to be learned for them to avoid being penalized,” Jimenez explained.
Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, who received the confiscated election tarpaulin, said the seized campaign materials are valuable resources which can be to good use.
“It will be such a huge waste if these illegal election paraphernalia are buried in landfills. We can and we should find appropriate uses for them,” Lucero said, who also acknowledged the MMDA’s ongoing efforts to take down unlawful poll publicity materials without fear or favor.
The coalition intends to reuse the tarpaulins and convert these into coin purses, pouch bags, beach bags, grocery bags, mail and shoe organizers, worker’s aprons, tool belts, laundry baskets, and respectacles for office and household recyclables.
The EcoWaste Coalition will collaborate with community-based organizations in making prototypes that can inspire others to reuse and recycle election campaign tarpaulins.
Lucero quickly pointed out that tarpaulins cannot be repurposed for certain applications that could contaminate food or expose young children to chemicals of concern such as cadmium and lead.
“Reusing and recycling tarpaulins would have been easier and less complicated if they do not contain toxic chemicals that are bad for human health and the environment,” she said.
Before sending the tarpaulins to partner groups for recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition will first screen them for toxic metals through a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
“We’ll use the chemical data to be generated to push for a regulation that will restrict, if not eliminate, toxic additives in plastic tarpaulins,” Lucero said.
“Removing such toxic additives is necessary to make tarpaulins easily reusable and recyclable and less a threat to public health and the ecosystems,” she emphasized.