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As part of its efforts in promoting environmental protection and climate change awareness, the San Juan City local government said it is now transitioning to being paperless during its committee sessions and hearings, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.

San Juan City Vice Mayor Warren Villa spearheaded the said initiative on Nov. 7 as he was thinking of a way on how the City Council can eliminate the use of paper during meetings to lessen carbon emissions through the use of technology.

With this in mind and with the help of technology, the council started using tablets with applications that make it easier for them to view and edit every document, instead of using printed documents.

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“This may be a small step but it is a good start which will be followed by more programs and projects for the environment. We, at the San Juan City Council and the San Juan City Government, are committed to environmental protection and preservation,” Villa said.

Villa explained that with the use of technology, members of the council can receive and store files in their respective devices to make them readily accessible during their sessions and committee hearings. They can also edit, make notes and comments, and even agree, object and approve ordinances and resolutions online.

“I thank Vice Mayor Warren and our councilors, as well as our Sanggunian Secretariat, for leading the way and showing our city hall employees that this can be done,” San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said.

Aside from being paperless, the city has also become a pioneer of different environmental protection programs and innovations that are slowly being implemented to other areas in the country.

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On Nov. 4, Zamora led the launching of the “Kuha sa Tingi” project at the San Juan City Hall, together with Greenpeace Philippines country director Lea Guerrero, Zero Waste campaigner Marian Ledesma, and Impact Hub Manila CEO and founder Ces Rondario.

“Kuha sa Tingi” is an environmental awareness project that will install refilling stations in 10 existing sari-sari stores in the city where the public can purchase different commodities such as shampoo and body wash, dishwashing liquid, liquid detergent, and fabric conditioner in smaller quantities, hence the term “tingi-tingi”.

The project aims to reduce the selling of items in plastic sachets which bring harm to the environment.

“This is a culture that we want to develop, na (that) instead of buying sachets, bibili na lang ng tingi dito (we just buy commodities in small portions here),” Zamora said.

He said buyers are highly encouraged to bring their own reusable containers when they buy.

“San Juan City is committed to addressing the problem of plastic pollution in the country. We have already launched several projects that aim to reuse or recycle plastics. We believe that communities can lead the way to show that we can reduce, if not totally eliminate, single-use plastics. ‘Kuha Sa Tingi’ does just that by doing away with the sachets and other single-use plastics and promoting reuse and refill systems. This project protects the environment, reduces plastic waste, creates livelihoods, and supports a slow circular economy,” Zamora explained.

In March, the city government in partnership with other environmental groups and the private sector launched the country’s very first reverse vending machine, called the Reverse Vending YC-301. It is an aluminum can and bottle recycling machine developed by Incom Tomra Recycling Technology.

The RVM collects different beverage containers and can identify 100 different barcodes from 100 different bottles (350, 500, 1000, 1500 ml) and standard-sized aluminum cans. It can store up to 300 (300 ml) cans and 400 (300 ml) PET bottles. It is also equipped with a touch screen feature and compression module to improve the capacity of the storage.

Once the RVM is full, Incom Tomra will collect the bottles and be brought to recycling facilities.

Zamora explained that in order to encourage people to recycle, they will also get incentives through redemption coupons. There will be scheduled redemptions for those who will receive the coupons after recycling their bottles and cans via the machine.

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