The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seeks to promote waste-to-energy technology (WtE) to help with the problem of waste management nationwide.

“That’s our direction now, considering there’s increasing generation of waste in the country,” DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said.

“That’s our direction now, considering there’s increasing generation of waste in the country.”

Leones explained WtE technology burn waste to produce energy, putting these discards to good use while helping reduce volume of trash for disposal.

There’s need for such reduction as existing landfills continue filling up with trash disposed there, the environment official noted.

Such situations stress the need to implement WtE projects “hand in hand with landfilling,” he said.

Leones pointed out that the DENR already started drafting guidelines for use by local government units (LGUs) and other parties interested in proposing and implementing WtE projects around the country.

DENR is also looking into technological solutions to the country’s waste problem, with ‘We and alternative technologies, partnering for proper waste management’ as the theme of this year’s Zero Waste Month celebration.

Proclamation 760 series of 2014 has declared January of each year as Zero Waste Month to help raise environmental awareness and action on such problem.

Environmental alliance No Burn Pilipinas, however, is questioning the DENR’s support of WtE technology.

The alliance is urging DENR to instead enforce RA 8749 (Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999) and RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) than promote the development of WtE projects and implementing guidelines for these.

“Solid waste management is the real way to go,” No Burn Pilipinas senior program officer Glenn Ymata said during a dialogue with the DENR on the matter.

“Solid waste management is the real way to go.”

Ymata warns that WtE projects burn waste — producing emissions that pollute the air and are harmful to health.

He added that RA 8749 prohibits waste incineration while RA 9003 promotes waste segregation, recycling and composting.

Leones however assured that the DENR will continue to promoting such measures.

“There’s a Supreme Court (SC) resolution that says not all incineration are banned by RA 8749,” he added. This means DENR can allow WtE projects with incineration processes that comply with standards including those for emissions, Leones said.

The High Court’s resolution covered the case of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority vs. Jancom Environmental Corporation et al, he noted.

In its 2002 resolution on the case, the SC said RA 8749’s Section 20 “does not absolutely prohibit incineration as a mode of waste disposal; rather, only those burning processes which emit poisonous and toxic fumes are banned.”

RA 8749 defines poisonous and toxic fumes as “any emissions and fumes which are beyond internationally-accepted standards, including but not limited to the World Health Organization guideline values,” the SC decision reads.

Reports earlier said Palawan’s Puerto Princesa City has partnered with Austworks Corp. to put up a P2.1 billion WtE plant.

The plant to be located in Puerto Princesa’s Sta. Lourdes Sanitary Landfill will use th. city’s 110 metric tons per day municipal waste as feed stock to generate some 5.5 megawatts of electricity, reports said.

 

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