Davao to proceed with Japanese-funded waste incineration project

With the increasing use of plastics waste recycling has become a major concern for big cities in the Philippines. MindaNews file photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 03 Oct) – The city government is finalizing the acquisition of a property in Biao Escuela in Tugbok District for the site of a Japanese-funded waste-to-energy (WTE) project worth P2.5 billion amidst opposition from environment groups for fears it would cause air and pollution.

Mayor Sara Duterte announced during her 2nd State of City Address on Tuesday at the city council that the city received a grant from the Japanese government following the exchange of notes between the Philippines and Japan on March 20 this year.

She said the city government is awaiting the signing of an Agent Agreement between the Department of Finance and the Japanese government for the formal start of the project.

“With this, we are now looking into improving our garbage collection processes whereby collection of properly segregated garbage will be strictly implemented following a fixed schedule based on categorization and utilizing specific collection vehicles for the purpose,” she said.

But Chinkie Pelino-Golle, Interface Development Interventions executive director objected to the WTE project citing environmental hazards.

“We know that the LGU (local government unit) is quite serious in establishing the WTE. We are firm with our position that we don’t agree with the WTE because it’s not a sustainable solution,” she said.

She said there is no need for a WTE facility if there is proper segregation of wastes.

“However, she also reiterated the need to do the segregation and banning of single use plastics. I think those are good measures that we need to strictly practice and eventually, we hope that we will not be needing the WTE,” she said.

Duterte urged Dabawenyos to learn to segregate their wastes, but her statement is in light of the construction of a WTE facility which produces energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the incineration of waste.

The mayor said building the WTE facility will take three to five years.

She said said the city will have to look for another site for another sanitary landfill as the eight-year old seven-hectare sanitary landfill in New Carmen, Tugbok has nearly reached its full capacity.

“For the time being, we will be utilizing alternative areas as temporary landfill once the current one reaches its full capacity and while the WTE Project is underway,” she said

Ecowaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen G. Lucero earlier called on the city government to turn down any proposal for a WTE project in the city claiming it would bring more harm to the environment and health of the people.

The group said WTE projects may cause water and air pollution as the technology that employs waste incineration emits toxic chemicals like dioxin and that the people must learn how to re-use the wastes.

Lucero said putting up a WTE facility might also hurt the city economically. She pointed out that for this kind of technology to be sustainable, investors will impose a lock-in period of between 20 and 30 years, during which the city will be burdened with fees “whether you put the amount of waste or not” due to the “put-or-pay” provision provided for in the contract with the possible investor.

She said at least 60 percent of the wastes produced in the city are organic while the remaining 40 percent are the inorganic or the non-biodegradable garbage, the high calorific wastes that a WTE technology needs, which include papers, metals, and plastics. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)