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To solve garbage crisis, Waste-to-Energy Act needed

With Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu’s pronouncements that the country, particularly Metro Manila, is now in the middle of a garbage crisis, Senator Win Gatchalian calls on everyone to manage their waste and practice environmentally friendly activities, especially in this time of the year.


CAGAYAN, Philippines – Minutes after take-off from Cagayan Province, an open dump site for solid waste can be seen on this 8 April 2017 file image. The Senate Committee on Energy chairman Senator Win Gatchalian believes that Waste-to-Energy projects would benefit the country in terms of a more secure energy system while addressing mounting waste management woes. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Cimatu had said that Filipinos generate more waste during the holidays than any other time of the year. That is why Gatchalian believes that the passage of Senate Bill No. 363 or the Waste-to-Energy Act (WTE Act) will help solve the perennial garbage problem. It will not only encourage the development of new technologies in the treatment and disposal of solid waste, it also supports the expansion of bioenergy to attain sustainable energy.

WTE refers to the energy recovered from waste, usually the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity or fuel through a variety of processes.

“Meeting our growing power demand without sacrificing our environment and draining our natural resources need a delicate balancing act. With the passage of the WTE bill, the country will be able to maximize the energy we can produce from waste, be it in the form of electricity, fuel, or gas, and in the process address the waste problem,” explains Gatchalian.

The projected waste generation in the country based on the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) data show that the yearly amount of waste is expected to increase from 14.66 metric tons in 2014 to 16.63 metric tons in 2020 and up to 20.51 metric tons in 2030. Metro Manila’s waste generation continues to increase from 3.60 metric tons in 2014 to 4.44 metric tons in 2020 and 6.32 metric tons in 2030.

In 2014 alone, Metro Manila’s waste was 24.2 percent of the entire country’s waste. By 2030, it is projected to reach as high as 30.80 percent.

The DENR has just issued guidelines on the establishment and operation of WTE facilities with Cimatu hoping that the country will be able to demonstrate in a pilot basis one solution to the waste problem without necessarily violating Republic Act (RA) 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act.

Our ASEAN neighbors have started to invest in waste-to-power plants. Singapore, for instance, aims to reduce the average daily amount of waste by 30 percent by 2030. Indonesia is moving forward on plans for WTE plants as well as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

“With the DENR’s issuance of the guidelines, the government may now be able to implement a 2016 resolution of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) which allows the entry and operations of WTE projects,” Gatchalian said.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy believes that WTE projects would benefit the country in terms of a more secure energy system while addressing the issue of waste management system.