DENR urges public to help reduce food waste

A June 4, 2013, press release from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Ramon J. P. Paje is calling on Filipinos to help cut down food waste and its corresponding ecological impact by developing habits that reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.

Paje made the call as the country celebrates Environment Month this June, kicking off with the observance of the World Environment Day on June 5 under the global theme, “Think. Eat. Save,” which is aimed at reducing food waste.

He stressed the need for every citizen to rethink his/her eating habits and be mindful of the way food is produced and consumed.

“Whenever possible, we should therefore be more selective in our food choices,” Paje said, urging the public to be “more environmentally-responsible consumers.”

The environment chief noted that “some types of food, like beef, take more resources to produce per kilogram, than others.”

Paje said people can reduce their so-called “foodprint” by patronizing food produced in an environmentally sound manner such as those grown organically or packaged using recycled materials to lessen waste dumped into landfills that generate methane, a relatively potent greenhouse gas.

He said organic food and locally-produced products “require less emissions-producing handling and transport to bring to our tables.”

“Many of us give very little regard on the entire chain from food production, which requires so many raw materials that are often sourced from the environment, up to food consumption, where waste is often detrimental to environmental health,” Paje pointed out.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has said that 1.3 billion metric tons of food is wasted every year. On a daily basis, a seventh of the world’s population “goes to bed hungry,” while more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger.

“These are facts to keep in mind whenever we see food go to waste in farms, in markets, in kitchens, and on the table,” Paje said.

According to Paje, food production to feed the planet’s seven billion people uses a great deal of the earth’s resources, making it the single biggest driver of biodiversity loss.

“In pursuit of food, humanity devotes 70 percent of its freshwater consumption to food production, which also accounts for 80 percent of deforestation and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,” Paje said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lined up numerous activities for this year’s Environment Month celebration and the agency’s 26th founding anniversary on June 10.

A week-long Organic/Eco-Friendly Products Festival featuring herbal, non-timber forest products and other similar items made from recycled, indigenous or environment-friendly materials started at the DENR central office in Quezon City on June 3.

On June 6, selected Metro Manila residents will take a day trip to La Mesa Dam and the Manila Water filtration and sewerage treatment plants in Balara, Quezon City.

The next day, an expert from the College of Home Economics of the University of the Philippines will hold a seminar at the DENR on food waste reduction and food preservation techniques. On the same day, dealers, retailers and resellers of ozone-depleting substances or ODS will undergo workshop on the safe handling of refrigerants.

During the DENR anniversary on June 10, a “Reduce Your Foodprint” photo booth will be set up at the DENR central office.

Beginning the third week of June, the rears of eight selected buses plying the Fairview-Baclaran route will feature an advertisement of “Usok Mo, Buhay Ko,” a public awareness campaign on the negative health effects of air pollution by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau, in partnership with the Philippine Medical Association, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Land Transportation Office, and the Partnership for Clean Air. The advertisements will run for six months.

From June 25 to 28, representatives from local government units (LGUs) along the Manila Bay region will undergo a training workshop on environmental sanitation and septage management, in preparation for the establishment of sewerage systems or treatment plants for wastewater sources draining into major rivers.

Shopping malls showcasing best practices on solid waste management will be recognized as “Solid Waste Management Champions” on June 28.

On June 29, teachers and students of the National Service Training Program, in partnership with LGUs, communities and the private sector will conduct a simultaneous cleanup of more than 200 waterways nationwide which have been adopted under the DENR’s “Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body” program.

The DENR and the Department of Energy are also expected to sign this month a Joint Administrative Order setting the guidelines on proper waste management by the lighting industry.

The month of June was assigned as Environment Month through Proclamation No. 237, series of 1988, in support of the World Environment Day and “to instill environmental awareness and concern among various sectors of Philippine society.”