DIFFERENT Philippine environmental organizations on Monday call on Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez to act decisively on the mounting proposals of specific interests to flood the country with thermal or burn “waste-to-energy” (WtE) technology, which will undermine the country’s effort to curb environmental degradation and pursue a low-carbon development path.
To press the urgency of their point, the environmentalists marched to the DENR main office in Quezon City, Monday morning during the regular flag raising ceremony.
“We urge Secretary Lopez to take the lead in promoting ecological and sustainable solutions to the country’s garbage woes. We already have cities, municipalities and barangays that are successfully implementing safe, proven and low-cost ecological management of municipal solid waste and their experiences can be replicated across the country,” said Ochie Tolentino, EcoWaste Coalition zero waste campaigner.
“But once we allow burn WtE technologies, our citizens will be locked-in to years of dirty, toxic, and costly solid waste management systems. Burn WtE facilities emit greenhouse gases and toxic fly ash and bottom ash. Allowing these facilities will sabotage our country’s efforts to clean our air and implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.” Tolentino warned.
The groups, which are part of the Stop Waste-to-Energy (WtE) Alliance, staged the rally because of the inaction of the DENR on their Sept. 1 petition seeking the repeal of the National Solid Waste Management Commission Resolution No. 669, series 2016, which allows the entry and operations of burn WtE. The NSWMC is chaired by the DENR.
According to the groups, burn WtE technologies are “rebranded garbage-burning facilities and incinerators used by waste industries and vendors to hide the technology’s dirty image and dupe unaware buyers and clients, particularly from developing countries like the Philippines.”
Aside from EcoWaste Coaltion, the other groups that marched to the DENR are Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and Piglas ng Kababaihan.
Meanwhile, a parallel anti-WtE forum was held in Davao City. Organized by the Sustainable Davao Movement, Ateneo University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council and the EcoWaste Coalition; the forum also calls for the ban of burn WtE technologies through presentations made by Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, former chief technical advisor of the United Nations Development Program on global environment waste projects, and 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Von Hernandez.
“It is lamentable that government agencies are still pining for costly magic bullets to solve our waste problems, when proven, safe and sustainable solutions are already enshrined in our existing policies,” said Hernandez.
“The real question is whether our officials have the political will and the creativity to move our society away from dirty and polluting waste management systems towards material recovery options that generate jobs for our communities. This is the unfulfilled promise of the 15 year old Ecological Solid Waste Management law, whose implementation remains hostage to government ineptitude and vested interests,” he said.