Too much garbage: Landfills may no longer be enough for NCR waste: DENR

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2017 03:59 PM

MANILA - Landfills may no longer be enough to accommodate the volume of waste produced in Metro Manila, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said there might be a need to amend existing laws to allow waste-to-energy processes that may reduce waste to ash-like residue.

"Sa bilis ng generation natin ng waste, landfills may not be appropriate na to address our garbage problem," said the DENR official. 

"There is a strong clamor sa mga local government units na pinupuntahan namin, at least, to revise the Clean Air Act," he added.

Leones said waste-to-energy processes are different from incineration, which is banned under Republic Act 9749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999. 

The law defines incineration as "the burning of municipal, bio-medical and hazardous wastes, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes, is hereby prohibited."

The DENR official said the technology to conduct waste-to-energy processes that will not be harmful to the environment is already available in the market. 

"There are other technologies. We call it waste-to-energy wherein we do not burn waste. Pero parang mga microwave, hindi ganoon kalakas ang emissions kagaya ng sa burning," he said. 

"Kung meron kang basura, sinunog mo, ang mangyayari abong-abo ang lalabas niyan. But 'yung waste-to-energy, using other technologies, pag sinunog mo, di siya sinunog na ash. Parang buo pa rin," he added.

But Leones stressed that amendments may take a long time, and the best solution to the garbage problem now is the strict implementation of the Solid Waste Management Act.

Meanwhile, the DENR official said the decision on the total closure of Payatas sanitary landfill will depend not only on the environment agency but with other stakeholders as well.

"Kung may violation sila, tingin natin na environmental effects, I'm very sure that the secretary will support the closure of the dumpsite," said Leones. 

"The decision to order or decide on whether they will close down the dumpsite is lodged with the MMDA... If environmental aspect, we can say, puwedeng i-close, iba ang consideration ng MMDA," he added.