DENR: Waste-to-energy a ‘win-win solution’ to garbage woes

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is looking at waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies as a "win-win solution" to the worsening garbage problem in the country, particularly in Metro Manila.

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said that WTE is a "smart alternative" to the traditional sanitary landfill, which is the waste disposal method allowed under Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

"Our landfills can only hold so much trash," Leones said. "We need to look for other ways to dispose of our garbage and WTE is a smart alternative with less environmental impact."

It will be recalled that DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu recently met with board members of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), an umbrella organization of elected government officials from provincial down to the barangay levels, where he sought their commitment to prioritize solid waste management in their respective localities because of the increasing volume of garbage being generated throughout the country.

"Local government units are duty-bound to comply with the existing law on solid waste management," Cimatu said. "The law provides that the primary responsibility in the implementation of waste segregation and disposal at source is lodged with the LGUs."

According to Leones, WTE is more environment-friendly than sanitary landfills.

He noted that when waste sits in landfills, it leaks methane and other greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment and human health.

"On the other hand, there are WTE technologies that use biogas or enzymes to convert waste into useful energy," Leones pointed out. "With these technologies, we will be able to reduce the need for landfill disposal."

While R.A. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 bans the use of incinerators, Leones explained that the Supreme Court had already ruled in the case of MMDA v. JanCom Environmental Corp. that "not all incineration violate the law."

He insisted that incineration technologies that comply with emissions standards are allowable, such as WTE.

In fact, the National Solid Waste Commission issued last year the guidelines on the implementation of WTE, which is one of the technologies mentioned in R.A. 9513 or the Energy Renewable Act of 2008 as alternative energy sources.

As such, the DENR currently undertakes a technical cooperation project with the Japanese government on the use of advanced WTE technologies, through thermal process. The cities of Quezon, Cebu and Davao have been chosen as pilot sites for the project.

Source: Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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