Sotto bill seeks to repeal ban on use of incinerators for waste disposal

Published January 2, 2019, 1:54 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III is seeking the repeal of the prohibition on the incineration of municipal bio-medical and hazardous wastes for waste disposal or for the processing of any material for fuel.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gestures after elected as a newly Senate President at Senate Building in Pasay city, May 21,2018.(Czar Dancel)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Sotto is pushing for the approval of Senate Bill 2076, which would amend the Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999, and remove a provision, which prohibits the incineration of wastes, to pave the way for the application of treatment technologies for waste disposal or conversion.

In filing the proposed “Act Regulating the Use of Treatment Technology for Municipal and Hazardous Wastes,” Sotto noted that landfills, particularly in Metro Manila, were already “reaching their maximum capacity and may no longer (be able to) accommodate the tons of trash in the coming years.” He attributed the problem on the “lack of planning and efficient waste treatment method.”

He said the waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration method has been “one of the effective and sustainable waste treatment technologies that are being adopted in many countries.”

The WTE method, he explained, is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the incineration of waste.

“The said method does not only reduce the mountains of waste in landfills but also generate energy as well in doing so,” Sotto added.

The Senate chief, for instance, cited Europe as the largest market for WTE technologies while Japan dominates 60 percent of Asia-Pacific WTE market for incineration.

While WTE could be “an ideal and beneficial system,” Sotto said the Philippines could not adopt it because of the prohibition under Section 20 of RA 8749.

Section 20 states that incineration of municipal, bio-medical and hazardous wastes, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes, is prohibited.

“Thus, Section 20 of the said law is being repealed to allow regulated thermal and other treatment technologies for the disposal of municipal and hazardous wastes, or for the processing of any material for fuel,” Sotto said.

With SB 2076, Sotto aims to establish standard by which thermal and other treatment technologies for the disposal of municipal and hazardous wastes “shall be designed and operated.”

The bill shall task the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the primary agency responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the measure.

Local government units, meanwhile, will be mandated to establish treatment facilities within their region, province or strategically clustered LGUs in consonance with their respective 10-year solid waste management plans.

The LGUS shall also be tasked “to promote, encourage and implement a comprehensive solid waste management in their respective jurisdiction.”