DENR pursues waste-to-energy option

By Catherine Teves

January 22, 2019, 2:17 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seeks to promote waste-to-energy (WtE) technologies to help address the problem on waste nationwide.

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

He said WtE technologies 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, he noted.

Such situation raised need to implement WtE projects "hand in hand with landfilling," he said.

He noted that DENR already commenced drafting guidelines for use of LGUs and other parties interested in proposing and implementing WtE projects around the country.

DENR is looking into technological solutions to the country's waste problem, even adapting 'We and alternative technologies, partnering for proper waste management' as theme for its 2019 celebration of the annual Zero Waste Month.

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

Environmental alliance No Burn Pilipinas is questioning DENR's support for WtE, however.

The alliance is urging DENR to enforce RA 8749 (Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999) and RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) instead of promoting 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 Monday (Jan. 21) when the alliance held a dialogue with DENR on the matter.

WtE projects burn waste -- producing emissions that pollute the air and are harmful to health, he warned.

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

Leones said DENR continues 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, he said.

SC'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, 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 partnered with Austworks Corp. in putting up a PHP2.1 billion WtE plant.

The plant in Puerto Princesa's Sta. Lourdes Sanitary Landfill will use this city's 110 metric tons per day municipal waste as feed stock to generate some 5.5 megawatts of electricity, the reports added. (PNA)