The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) is working to fast-track the approval process for the 10-year solid waste management plans (SWMPs) submitted by more than 1,600 cities and municipalities across the country.

NSWMC is the major agency tasked to oversee the implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which requires each local government unit (LGU) to submit an SWMP that is being updated every 10 years. The commission is composed of various government agencies led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

According to DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda, only around 400 SWMPs were approved so far out of the more than 1,600 submitted by LGUs as early as 2014.

“We have a backlog of around 1,200 SWMPs that’s why we really need to fast track the approval process so the LGUs may implement their respective plans for addressing garbage problems in their localities,” Antiporda pointed out.

In fact, Antiporda disclosed that the DENR-led body has approved the SWMPs of 67 LGUs during its three en banc meetings in October. The SWMPs cover the years 2014-2023, 2015-2024, 2017-2026, and 2018-2027.

Among those approved last month were the SWMPs of the cities of Legazpi, Calapan and Mandaue, as well as several municipalities in Abra, Pampanga, Oriental Mindoro, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, Zamboanga del Norte, Saranggani and Maguindanao provinces.

Antiporda said that “starting November, the NSWMC will try to approve 100 SWMPs a month until the backlog is cleared.”

“Before, the NSWMC used to approve only 10 or 20 plans a month,” he noted.

The approved SWMPs include strategies on residual, recyclable, biodegradable and special wastes such as the strict implementation of the “No Segregation, No Collection” policy, recycling of single-use plastics, and composting and construction of vault for health care wastes. Municipal ordinances in support of these strategies were also identified.

Since August this year, the NSWMC has been awarding certificates to LGUs whose SWMPs have been approved through resolutions issued by the commission.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the certificates not only signifies compliance by LGUs to the requirement to submit SWMPs, as it also provides as a guarantee for them to adhere with all the provisions of RA 9003.

“This is our way of ensuring the commitment of LGUs to proper solid waste management,” Cimatu said.

“We want to make sure local leaders have a document that serves as a reminder of their duties and responsibilities under the law,” the environment chief added.

Under RA 9003, LGUs are primarily responsible for waste segregation and disposal.

The law provides for a systematic, comprehensive, and ecological solid waste management program that includes SWM activities such as avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and proper disposal of residual waste. ###