Even before the pandemic, the city government of Davao and the different environmentalist groups were already anticipating the exhaustion of the 11.75-hectare landfill the City currently uses in Carmen, Tugbok District.
City started experiencing the pandemic, waste produced by the City increased from 600 to 650 tons per day.
Among the most effective strategies indicated in the Ecological Waste Management Act (RA9003) of waste management, is a systematic recovery and collection of waste as “resource” materials.
Brgy. Mintal has been paving the way in providing promising interventions in the City’s solid waste problem. One particular group that has been crucial in this effort is the Mintal Resource Collectors Association (MiRCA). This group is organized and capacitated by PHINLA, a partnership project of the World Vision Development Foundation, EcoWaste Coalition, Kinaiyahan Foundation, and Sustainable Davao Movement, and is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Global Development (BMZ).
Brgy. Chairman Rey Amador Bargamento shared that as early as 2013, Mintal had intentionally intensified segregation at the source. There was high compliance, but logistic limitations took a toll on their campaign. They had no clear collection schedule and had only one mini dump truck catering to 23 areas. With the help of PHINLA and MiRCA, they could divert a chunk of their solid waste and help resource collectors earn.
From January to March this year, the group has collected more than 18 tons of recyclable wastes, such as cardboard boxes (karton), PET bottles, plastic scraps, etc., earning as much as 138,000 for that span of months. They covered 65% of the households in Brgy Mintal or about 3000 households.
MiRCA and their families face greater hardships and challenges despite being an essential part of the City’s solid waste management ecosystem. Often, their efforts are unrecognized by the community and the local government. These heroes and heroines were not born to collect trash, but they do it with pride.
Randy C. Irog, MiRCA President, shared that they struggled during the start of their efforts, but throughout the time, they have been welcomed by the households already. They are thankful for the different sectors’ support as they now earn monthly from waste picking/resource picking to support their daily needs. They also aim to expand their coverage and are hopeful that a similar approach will be applied in other Barangays of the City.
Their work is also vital in this time of health crisis and climate change. Along with our health care workers, resource collectors are doing their part in securing everyone’s health by pushing for healthy ecosystems and proper sanitation and waste disposal.