Gatchalian pushes waste-to-energy bill to solve PH problem on garbage

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday renewed his call for the passage of a bill that would convert waste to energy to solve the country’s problem on garbage.

In pushing Senate Bill No. 363 or the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Act, Gatchalian believes that its passage will encourage the development of new technologies in the treatment and disposal of solid waste.

He said the measure also supports the expansion of bioenergy to attain sustainable energy.

WTE refers to the energy recovered from waste, usually the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity or fuel through a variety of processes.

“Meeting our growing power demand without sacrificing our environment and draining our natural resources need a delicate balancing act,” Gatchalian said in a statement.  

“With the passage of the WTE bill, the country will be able to maximize the energy we can produce from waste, be it in the form of electricity, fuel, or gas, and in the process address the waste problem,” he added.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, also believes that the WTE projects would benefit the country in terms of a more secure energy system while addressing the issue of the waste management system.

The lawmaker renewed his call for the passage of the WTE bill following Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu’s pronouncement that the country, particularly Metro Manila, is now in the middle of the garbage crisis.

Citing Cimatu, the senator said that Filipinos generate more waste during the holidays than any other time of the year.

Data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission showed that the yearly amount of the country’s projected waste generation is expected to increase from 14.66 metric tons in 2014 to 16.63 metric tons in 2020 and up to 20.51 metric tons in 2030.

Data also showed that Metro Manila’s waste generation continues to increase from 3.60 metric tons in 2014 to 4.44 metric tons in 2020 and 6.32 metric tons in 2030.

In 2014 alone, Metro Manila’s waste was 24.2 percent of the entire country’s waste. By 2030, it is projected to reach as high as 30.80 percent.

Gatchalian noted that the DENR has issued guidelines on the establishment and operation of WTE facilities, hoping that the country will be able to demonstrate in a pilot basis one solution to the waste problem without necessarily violating Republic Act 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act.

“Our ASEAN neighbors have started to invest in waste-to-power plants. Singapore, for instance, aims to reduce the average daily amount of waste by 30 percent by 2030. Indonesia is moving forward on plans for WTE plants as well as Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia,” he said.

“With the DENR’s issuance of the guidelines, the government may now be able to implement a 2016 resolution of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) which allows the entry and operations of WTE projects,” he added.

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