MANILA – Livelihood and investment opportunities are possible nationwide from the planned environment department’s ban on Philippine importation of recyclable waste.

Such ban will create demand for local recyclables that will replace import cements and power plants use as fossil fuel alternative -- presenting income-generating and business opportunities in sourcing and segregating trash as well as supplying and even processing appropriate domestic waste, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) assistant director Vizminda Osorio said.

“We have a lot of recyclable waste materials in the country and must maximize use of these,” she said.

Citing National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) data, a 2017 Senate report said the country generated some 40,087 tons of waste per day in 2016 alone -- up from the 37,427 tons per day in 2012.

NSWMC said biodegradables (52 percent), recyclables (28 percent) and residuals (18 percent) comprised waste disposed nationwide, the report noted.

Authorities expect volume of waste generated around the country to increase further.

Imported waste used as fossil fuel alternative account for about 25 percent to 30 percent of domestic demand for recyclables, Osorio noted.

She said strictly implementing waste segregation and other provisions of RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) will enable the country to meet such demand, help create new waste-based income streams for communities and the business sector as well as lessen volume of waste for disposal.

Implementing RA 9003 is the mandate of LGUs nationwide, she said.

“We’re encouraging LGUs to really strengthen segregation particularly of recyclable waste,” she added.

This month, environment chief Roy Cimatu said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) plans to prepare the order banning the country's importation of garbage including recyclable waste.

The order aims to help address entry of hazardous and misdeclared cargo like the controversial shipment of mixed waste from Canada, he noted.

He said DENR set such policy direction to avoid future similar shipments into the country as well as environmental, health and diplomatic problems that can arise from these imports.

According to the existing DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2013-22, recyclable materials containing hazardous substances that may be imported subject to corresponding limiting conditions set in this order are scrap metals, solid plastic materials, electronic assemblies and scrap, used oil and fly ash.

Hazardous substances are substances which present either “short-term acute hazard such as acute toxicity by ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption, corrosivity or other skin or eye contact hazard or the risk of fire or explosion or long-term environmental hazard, including chronic toxicity upon repeated exposure, carcinogenicity (which may in some case result from acute exposure but with a long latent period), resistance to detoxification process such as biodegradation, the potential to pollute underground or surface water, or aesthetically objectionable properties such as offensive odor”.

"Definitely, we'll change the policy on importation clearance," said Osorio.

She said EMB’s technical personnel will review DAO 2013-22 to see which of its provisions must be changed. (PNA)