6 November 2023, Quezon City. A record-setting concert for a cause that attracted attendees from Metro Manila and adjacent areas has put the spotlight on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), or what is popularly known as e-waste, and the need to safely manage this rising waste stream to protect human health and the ecosystems from toxic pollution.
On the one hand, e-waste contains hazardous materials like lead, mercury and other heavy metals, flame retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and other substances of concern, which are largely released into the environment through reckless disposal and uncontrolled dismantling that can harm workers and their communities. On the other hand, e-waste also contains valuable components like aluminum, copper, iron and gold, which if retrieved and recycled can be used by manufacturers as secondary substitutes to virgin raw materials.
Held yesterday at the Marikina Sports Center (MSC), the “Together WEEE Can! An E-Waste Collection Concert” established a national record in terms of physical attendance in an event solely dedicated to promoting safe e-waste management. According to the organizers, some 15,000 mostly youth participants braved the intermittent rain to listen to their favorite artists and, yes, to support the call for a sound management of e-waste.
The concert also set a record in the volume of e-waste collected for proper recycling. Records show that over eight tons of assorted e-waste were traded in on site and in designated drop-off points in exchange for concert tickets. The Philippines has a per capita e-waste generation exceeding 4 kg.
At the MSC, attendees lined up to exchange discarded phone chargers, mobile phones, speakers, headsets, tablets, laptops, keyboards, and small household appliances like electric fans and irons for entrance tickets.
In addition, partner groups and individuals brought bigger e-waste items, including computer monitors, TV picture tubes, air-conditioners and washing machines, in several designated e-waste exchange centers around the metropolis.
Speaking at the concert, Marikina City District 1 Representative Marjorie Ann Teodoro told the crowd in Filipino: “Huwag po nating itigil ang ating ginagawa para sa tamang pangangasiwa ng ating mga e-waste. Itong concert na ito ay para sa inyo at sa kalikasan.”
The “Together WEEE Can” concert was organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), United Nations Industrial Development Organizations (UNIDO) and the EcoWaste Coalition with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
As explained by Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director and DENR Assistant Secretary Gilbert Gonzales, “This campaign aims to tackle the detrimental effects of e-waste; enhance awareness regarding responsible e-waste management; and encourage individuals, businesses, and governments to take proactive measures in reducing e-waste and ensuring its proper disposal.”
“Our keen collaboration with our government and industry partners, the informal waste sector, particularly the e-waste dismantlers, and with the invited performers and their fans made this historic concert for the environment a big success,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “We look forward to continuing our shared advocacy with them towards a truly zero waste and non-toxic circular economy.”
Among the performers who joined the advocacy concert were Kiyo, 7th, Alisson Shore, Omar Baliw, Because, Cean Jr., Chrstn, Kean Cipriano, Kenaniah, Issa Loki, Eugene Layug, Shortone, Stef Monce, EJ Rosita and Zild.