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#ECOSQUADGOALS: A Digital Citizen Science Approach to Understanding Solid-Waste Management

25/01/2021
04 - Quality Education
09 - Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

To commemorate World Science Day 2020 and as response to the pandemic UNESCO supported the #EcoSquadGoals launched on 11 December 2020 and organized by De La Salle University, Philippines. #EcoSquadGoals was an online initiative that combines a workshop, contest, and symposium to help equip the Filipino youth with the tools and capacity to evaluate and curb the increased plastic consumption, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. One hundred registered students from six schools (three of which are Universities and the other three are senior high schools) participated in the kick-off workshop. During the workshop, the participants learned several tailored topics such as citizen sciences and its impact on the coastal communities and solid waste management.

The workshop trained the participants to assess the household plastic consumption and to pitch ideas and solutions to tackle a solid waste problem in their region. Within one month, the participants collected data on how their daily lifestyles, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, has aggravated the solid waste problem. This data would then be used as a foundation to generate applicable projects and activities as solutions to address the problems.

Six registered schools competed and presented their projects and key findings during an online symposium on 8 January 2021. The main key findings elaborated during the session were: (i) Plastic wrapping from online deliveries made up the largest amount of plastic waste gathered in a month at the household level; (ii) The participants expected that food-related plastics waste would be higher. However, during the year-end holidays, most households were cooking at home, reducing plastic consumption; (iii) The solid waste related to plastic wrapping from online shopping deliveries increased towards the holiday season; (iv) The average weight of plastic waste from online deliveries per household in one month was around 10 kilograms.

The organizer selected three groups out of six schools as winners of the #ECOSQUADGOALS awards. They are: University of Asia and the Pacific ALON as the first winner with a project proposal on a digital application to help track household plastic waste produced; Polytechnic University of the Philippines Society of Biology Students as the second winner with a project proposal on microplastic workshop for senior high school students, and Ateneo De Manila University Environmental Science Society with project proposal on plastic waste management online training for college students in the Philippines. The winning #EcoSquadGoals then will be implementing their proposal activities in the forthcoming weeks.

These series of activities contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, especially on Goal 4 (equality access to education especially for youths), Goal 9 (build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation) and Goal 11 (reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including waste management).

For more information, please contact Ai Sugiura (a.sugiura@unesco.org).

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