Keep incineration ban intact, eco-groups to P-Noy

                               (Photos by Gigie Cruz-Sy/GAIA)

 City of Manila. “Malinis na hangin, ipaglaban natin! Basura huwag sunugin!” (Defend clean air! Burn not trash!)

Eco-activist groups comprising of the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Green Convergence, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), KULAY, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), and green advocates from local communities drummed up the call in time for the commemoration of the Earth Day to protest renewed moves from some lawmakers to lift the incineration ban.

Carrying a mock incinerator monster surrounded by youth activists dressed as zombies, to symbolically depict the horror of incineration for drastically devastating clean air, climate, public health, as well as jobs and livelihoods, the 200 strong cavalcade marched from Espana Road to the Malacanang Palace to deliver a strong Earth Day message to the president.

“In response to renewed attempts by some pro-incineration congressmen to water down the Clean Air Act, we call on President Benigno Simeon Aquino, III to defend the law from legislative attacks and keep the incineration ban intact!,” cried Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coaltion.

“P-Noy should make it his legacy to defend the Clean Air Act from attempts to lift the ban on the burn and to uphold it through genuine implementation,” she added.

Despite failure to reach consensus during 3 consultation meetings of the Committee on Ecology of the Philippine Congress on Cong. Edgar Erice’s proposed bill amending Section 20 of the Clean Air Act or Republic Act 8749 to allow incineration of wastes, the committee’s technical working group on incineration surprisingly came up recently with a draft.

“We are aghast that, despite oppositions from the civil society and in the face of hard evidences against the supposed benefits of incineration, a.k.a. ‘thermal treatment technology’, pro-incinerators in the House of Representatives were too excited to amend RA 8749 that they appeared willing to proceed with it even behind our backs,” said Paeng Lopez of GAIA.

According to the group, the pro-incinerators’ claim that incineration solves our problems with wastes, energy, climate change, and even health issues, have been debunked repeatedly.

“Incineration is unsustainable as it perpetuates wasting by destroying resources, instead of recovering them for ecological management through recycling, composting, or reusing,” Lucero stressed, adding that this is in express violation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or RA 9003.

As pertains energy, Lopez emphasized that a lot more energy is saved from recycling compared to what incineration is capable of generating. “Recycling a ton of PET bottles for example will save 85.16 Gigajoules of energy: that is 26.4 times the energy that can be generated from incinerating the same input,” he explained, quoting from American zero waste and incineration expert Dr. Paul Connett.

“Incineration will also not do justice to climate as more carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, is produced by waste-to-energy incinerators than coal-fired power plants,” Lopez added.

For her part, Merci Ferrer, HCWH-Asia Director, underscored the health impacts of incinerating medical wastes, particularly to host communities. "Burning of biomedical wastes produces dioxins and furans which when released to the environment will cause enormous public health impacts such as impairment of the immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems," she said.

“Incineration is unsustainable; it wastes valuable resources and energy; it promotes global warming; and produces toxic ash and air emissions,” summed the group.