It is ironic that Silliman University (SU), which is known for its intellectual and environmental leadership, still does not practice proper solid waste segregation.
As the Zero Waste Month is coming to an end, Dumaguete City is still haunted by its intensifying garbage problem. Waste of all sorts are now overflowing in the gigantic open dumpsite in Candau-ay, causing floods and poisoning the air and bodies of water.
It is disappointing that despite this reality, SU continues to keep its eyes closed while throwing waste that has never undergone segregation. Every month, the university is throwing an average of 200 cubic meters of its waste in the dumpsite.
Aside from bottles and tin cans, the unsegregated waste coming from trash bins may contain other materials that can be used or recovered in Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) of SU. Since waste collected from residential, commercial, education, and medical areas in Silliman is not monitored before they are sent to dumpsite, there is a high possibility that waste such as glass, metals, food leftovers, and even hazardous waste are included.
If this is the reality, then the cleanliness inside the university is a lie. If we do not see overflowing trashcans dumped inside the university, it is only because we dump most of our garbage in a place we cannot see–the city’s open dumpsite.
In a study conducted by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, it was found that only seven percent of what people throw away are actually waste, the rest can still be recovered. Imagine if only seven percent of SU’s unsegregated waste are turned over to the dumpsite and the rest are recovered in the MRF.
However, this doesn’t mean that establishments in the university who are still distributing plastics should not be liable for SU’s residual waste. Plastic regulation must also be imposed upon them.
All of this is only possible if the university shows a strong commitment to pushing for a Zero Waste University. This is easier said than done, but it can be started with small steps such as massive campaign for proper waste egregation.
Engr. Edgar Ygnala has challenged SUSG Environmental Committee to educate the students and monitor the waste segregation. As much as SUSG plays a vital role in leading students in environmental protection, the Administration needs to realize that this is a shared problem, not just of the students, but also faculty, staff, pastors, dorm managers, the admin themselves and everyone in the university who throws waste.
After all, SU’s vision is to be “A leading Christian institution committed to total human development for the well-being of society and environment.” Blessed with intellect and resources, aren’t we all commanded by the Almighty to be good stewards of Earth?