24 September 2014

Green groups urge MMDA chief to drop incineration proposal


Quezon City, 24 September 2014. Alarmed by the recent statement by Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman, Francis Tolentino, pushing for incineration to address perennial garbage and flood woes, green groups today asked the MMDA chief to abandon any such plan, as this violates the law and is an environmental and health risk.

In a counter statement, zero waste and chemical safety advocates belonging to the EcoWaste Coalition, Mother Earth Foundation and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives said that “waste incineration is a way of cutting corners and taking an easy, not to mention highly toxic and expensive, way out of our waste problems.” 

No less than the US Environmental Protection Agency, the groups said, had admitted that compared with source reduction, reuse and recycling, waste incinerators contribute far higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions throughout their lifecycles.

The groups cited another study by the US Energy Information Administration stating that the operations and maintenance costs of waste incinerators are ten times greater than coal and four times greater than nuclear.

On Monday, Tolentino blamed garbage as the major culprit that caused the widespread flooding due to the combined impact of typhoon Mario and the southwest monsoon (habagat) and looked up to incineration as the solution, alluding to the need to construct four incinerators to burn Metro Manila’s garbage costing P7 billion each.

“We reject MMDA’s multi-billion peso quick fix ‘solution’ that belittles and violates Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which mandates ecological solid waste management ‘excluding incineration’ (Section 2, d),” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero maintained that “the real solution to our garbage woes is the full enforcement of R.A. 9003,”  stressing that “only a small fraction of the generated wastes would be left for disposal if solid wastes are managed according to law.”

“No incinerator would thrive if the R.A. 9003 is genuinely enforced,” Lucero emphasized.

Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, pointed out that "the poor implementation and the unchecked violation of RA 9003 is not an excuse to violate it further by allowing incineration and tolerating LGUs in the non-performance of their responsibility to enforce the law.”

“We now have a model city, San Fernando City in Pampanga, implementing R.A. 9003 in terms of source segregation, segregated collection, segregated waste destination (Sections 21 - 24) and a Materials Recovery Facility in every barangay (Section 32), resulting to a waste diversion rate of 55%, the highest for a whole city in the entire country,” she said.

"MMDA's fixation with this end-of-the pipe solution to our waste problems reflects their wasteful mentality.  Apparently, they instinctively view discards as waste and not as resources that can be re-used, re-purposed, recycled, or composted - waste management steps that are enshrined in R.A. 9003, which our government to this day has yet to properly implement,” said Paeng Lopez of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

The groups concluded by challenging the MMDA chief to drop his plans on incineration and to instead pursue a strict Metro Manila-wide implementation of RA 9003 to ecologically deal with the Metro’s garbage crisis.

-end-

Reference:

U.S. EPA, “Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases, A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks 3rd edition,” 2006:
http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/waste/downloads/fullreport.pdf

U.S. Energy Information Administration (Department of Energy), Updated Capital Cost Estimates for Electricity Generation Plants, November 2010:
http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/beck_plantcosts/pdf/updatedplantcosts.pdf 

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