Jun 11, 2023

2 communities, separated by an ocean, are working together to manage trash better

Grassroots groups in Manila and Detroit have teamed up in the fight against pollution, reports Whitney Bauck in Grist.

In a nutshell:

In the bustling city of Malabon in the Philippines, a pioneering waste management approach has taken root. Spearheaded by the nonprofit Mother Earth Foundation, local waste workers collect organic waste, recyclables, and trash, reducing waste in the streets and mitigating flooding. This community-led initiative, involving decentralized composting and recycling, showcases the power of addressing organic garbage to tackle a significant portion of the waste problem.

Inspired by its success, the nonprofit connected with the Breathe Free Detroit campaign in Michigan, combating pollution from a nearby waste incinerator and fostering a cross-cultural exchange of strategies. The collaboration highlights how shared experiences can facilitate mutual learning and meaningful change on a global scale.

Key quote:

“Having a [incinerator] facility like that running for 33 years completely devastated the neighborhood that I live in,” said KT Andresky, the campaign organizer at Breathe Free Detroit. “A lot of businesses and families left. Many schools shut down.”

The big picture:

Pollution stemming from waste incinerators can inflict serious health consequences on communities living nearby. The emissions often contain toxic particulate matter and harmful chemicals, which can lead to a range of health issues. Residents in affected areas might experience respiratory problems, including asthma and other lung disorders, as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Exposure to incinerator-related pollutants has also been linked to various forms of cancer and can exacerbate preexisting health conditions, imposing a significant public health burden on vulnerable populations.

Read the article at Grist.

The science is still coming in on contaminants associated with waste incineration: Marina Schauffler reported for EHN that incineration of municipal waste containing “forever chemicals” could further spread contamination.

In a nutshell: Key quote: The big picture: