January is not just the month of festivals in the region. It is also declared as the National Zero Waste Month by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 760, dated May 2014. This CY 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to clean the air and water, especially during the lockdown months when people movement and transportation were restricted. However, with the imposition of wearing masks, there is a need for the Department to once again embark on a massive campaign for people to properly manage their wastes.

Aptly, the theme: Bouncing Back from the Pandemic to a Greener and Healthier Environment was adopted for the observance of Zero Waste Month 2021, which “focuses on proper disposal, segregation and management of healthcare wastes,” said Atty. Ramar Niel V. Pascua, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Zero Waste Month is also pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) 2000.

The DENR Region 6 continues to encourage people in all sectors of society to be mindful of properly managing their wastes as there is an alarming increase of household, healthcare and special wastes brought by the COVID-19.

“We should be wary of how we properly dispose our used face masks and gloves which are considered special wastes. We appeal to every household that they should treat used face masks, gloves and disposable face shields as special wastes as these can spread the virus,” said regional executive director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

In observance of the Zero Waste Month 2021, the EMB Region 6 has conducted the Training on Green Initiatives for Youth Leaders last January 21–22, 2021. The event has gathered eighteen (18) selected youth leaders from different schools in the province of Iloilo. During the training, they were taught ways to do the upcycling and recycling of solid wastes and how to become eco-friendly influencers in various social media platforms thereby serving as catalyst for change.

The Zero Waste Month is an advocacy that promotes the designing and managing of products and the processes to avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste, and materials.

It is also defined as a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary to guide people in having a resourceful lifestyle, in which discarded materials can be re-designed as resources for others to use.