Davao’s waste-to-energy project still pending approval by NEDA-ICC

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 February) – The proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) project of the local government of Davao is still pending approval by the National Economic Development Authority Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC), an official of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-Davao said.

Collecting plastic waste during a clean-up drive in Davao City. Photo courtesy of IDIS

Jay Christopher F. Bawi-in, chief of the Ecological Solid Waste Management section of EMB, told Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday that the agency would provide assistance to the local government in the conduct of environmental impact assessment once NEDA-ICC approves the proposed WTE.

He added that the estimated cost of the proposed WTE project is P6 billion, of which the government of Japan has committed to provide P2.5 billion while the remaining the P3.5 billion would come from the national government as a counterpart fund.

He said Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) conducted the first feasibility study of the project but funding assistance would come from the Japanese government.

Various environmental groups opposed the construction of the project in Davao because, as an incinerator facility, it emits dioxins and furans, which they said are highly toxic and carcinogenic substances.

Mark Peñalver, executive director of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), said that the project would not address the solid waste problem of the city.

The project, he pointed out, will affect residents of 20 barangays, namely, Mintal, Santo Niño, Catalunan Grande, Langub, Waan, Callawa, Riverside, Balengaeng, Tacunan, Biao Guianga, Angalan, Los Amigos, Talandang, New Valencia, New Carmen, Matina Biao, Tagakpan, Ula, Tugbok, and Biao Escuela.

He said most of the barangays do not have a proper solid waste management program.

Peñalver said that under Republic Act 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, barangays need to establish materials recovery facilities (MRF) to receive, sort, process, and store compostable and recyclable materials.

Out of 182 barangays in the city, only Barangays Tacunan, Mintal, Mahayag, Gumalang, Lapu-Lapu, Hizon, and Catalunan Grande have functioning MRFs, he said.

Peñalver added that the volume of wastes generated are continuously increasing but most of those wastes ending up in the landfill are compostable and reusable materials which the MRFs could not process.

The city generates around 600 to 700 tons of wastes daily, according to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

Biodegradable wastes comprise 80% of the city’s wastes, Peñalver added.

Once barangays establish their own MRFs, he said only the residuals will be thrown in the landfill, reducing the volume of wastes and expanding the lifespan of the landfill.

The seven-hectare landfill has been operating beyond its lifespan, he noted. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)