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Better way to spend QC’s garbage budget

12:02 AM January 31, 2017

At first blush, it looks good: “Gina set on Payatas landfill closure” ( Metro, 1/21/17). But a leader of a people’s organization alerted us a week ago that he saw a billboard outside Payatas announcing that a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant (read: incinerator) will soon rise inside Payatas.

At a recent meeting of environmentalists with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on the ill effects of WTE operations, especially the fly and bottom ash from burnt waste which would give us even greater problems, she said, “I won’t sign that then.” We hope she will honor her word.

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However, it is not correct for Secretary Lopez to tell the Quezon City government to look for other dumps because the people there and their environment will suffer, too. Moreover, from north to south of our country is a watershed that any landfill would only pollute and destroy as is happening now. Our country, which consists of several islands, is surrounded by bodies of water.

Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) mandates waste prevention at best—or reduction at least. Excess resources must be segregated at the source (households, establishments). Biodegradable wastes must be composted (ideally at the source, or in a barangay materials recovery facility or ecology center, as we prefer to call it); nonbiodegradable wastes must be reused, recycled, sold. Toxic, hazardous wastes (broken glass, spent batteries, light bulbs, electronic wastes, etc.) must be ecologically managed with special treatment by the city or municipal government. Infectious, hospital wastes must be taken care of by the hospitals and not given to the regular collection.

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The law is a bit lax, however, by providing for “residual waste”—which is only what should go to the landfill as the law also provides for. Strictly speaking, residual waste or “latak” can be treated/recycled with special technology that is much cheaper and safer than WTE technology. Hence, there would be no need for landfills, much less WTE.

We urge the Quezon City government to seriously, sincerely consider options for a progressive, sustainably prosperous city based on ecological premises. Here’s one: In 2012, selected women leaders from the city’s barangays wrote Mayor Herbert Bautista about their vision of Payatas as a bamboo forest—to mitigate global warming, protect the environment, and help improve people’s lives and the economy.

The garbage budget could be more creatively spent for a win-win outcome for the city government, the waste management contractors and other business entities (the biggest ones are now in Quezon City) and for the whole Quezon City population, especially the poor. Bautista has intelligent and hardworking people in his environmental protection and waste management group and in his other departments who—together with many of us equally intelligent, hardworking, concerned, and well-meaning citizens—can help him in transforming Quezon City into the most ecological city in the country.

JOEY C. PAPA and ANNETTE V. PAPA, convenors, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, [email protected]

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TAGS: ecology, environment, garbage, Gina Lopez, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, Payatas
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