08 April 2014

QC Environmentalists Caution City Government against Falling into the Incineration Trap

Quezon City-based zero waste advocates expressed dismay over a resolution adopted by the City Council asking the House of Representatives to lift the ban on waste incineration under two of the country’s foremost environmental laws.

Von Hernandez, Sonia Mendoza and Joey Papa, QC residents and vocal environmental leaders, decried such move by the city’s councillors, warning that tinkering with the incineration ban under R.A. 8749 and R.A. 9003 will cause a death blow to ongoing waste prevention and recycling initiatives and lead to further degradation of the environment.

R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act, prohibits the “burning of municipal, bio-medical and hazardous wastes, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes,” while R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, promotes “the adoption of best environmental practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration.”

“This is regressive and despicable move on the part of the City Council.  Not only does it betray the QC government’s utter inability to implement real solutions already prescribed in law.  It also shows that these politicians would not hesitate to burn and waste taxpayers’ money on polluting facilities,” said Von Hernandez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“What is being presented as a ‘quick fix’ is actually a scheme to increase the already stratospheric costs of waste management and disposal in QC.  The public has a right to ask who will be benefitting from this proposal,” said Hernandez, who is also the Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"The trouble with ‘quick fix’ measures is they usually compound the problem.  Waste-to-energy incinerators will compound the garbage problem by increasing health hazards from waste. What QC needs is to aggressively reduce the garbage it produces by securing cooperation of residents.  That may be long and slow but it is sustainable,” said Shalimar Vitan, Asia-Pacific Coordinator, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
For her part, Sonia Mendoza, President of the Mother Earth Foundation, reminded the councillors that “incinerators emit loads of pollutants, including cancer-causing dioxins that can put the health of people at grave risk.”
“Incinerator peddlers would always say ‘nothing to worry, it’s zero emission,’ but even the most technologically advanced waste burners with expensive, high-tech emission control devices still emit various contaminants, often failing emission standards,” she said. 

“And in whose backyard are they planning to dispose of the hazardous ash after combustion?,” she asked. 

Joey Papa, President of Bangon Kalikasan Movement said that “incineration terminates the resource cycle and competes with recycling, which is beneficial for the people, the economy and the environment.”
“Instead of being fixated with this lazy man’s dangerous technology, our city officials should focus on optimizing recycling and providing incentives for households to separate their discards at source, recycle and compost,” he said.
According to the environmentalists, the incineration ban under the two laws has, among others benefits, prevented waste resource from being converted into hazardous ash, prevented pollutants from contaminating the air, water and soil and the food supply, and prevented funds from being wasted for expensive, imported and unnecessary materials destruction technology.
“If only properly enforced, both R.A. 8749 and R.A. 9003 would have assisted in eliminating waste and pollution and move the nation to a more sustainable path through the adoption of zero waste principles and practices,” they said.
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