Gatchalian pushes Waste-to-Energy Act to solve garbage crisis

By Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday renewed his push for the passage of the measure that would convert waste to energy which he believes would help solve the country’s perennial garbage problem.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian is referring to Senate Bill No. 363 or the Waste-to-Energy Act (WTE Act) which, he said, will encourage the development of new technologies in the treatment and disposal of solid waste.

The measure, he said, also supports the expansion of bioenergy towards a sustainable energy environment.

WTE refers to the energy recovered from waste, usually the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into usable 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.

“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,” the senator explained.

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

The senator made the pitch for the proposed Waste-to-Energy Act following Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu’s warning that the country, particularly Metro Manila, is now in the middle of a garbage crisis.

Gatchalian said Filipinos should heed the call for proper waste management and disposal, especially during the holidays. Citing Cimatu, Gatchalian said that Filipinos generate more waste during the holidays than any other time of the year.

According to Gatchalian, the projected waste generation in the country, based on the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) data, show that the yearly amount of waste 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

The lawmaker noted that the DENR has just issued guidelines on the establishment and operation of WTE facilities with Cimatu hoping that the country will be able to demonstrate in a pilot basis one solution to the waste problem without necessarily violating Republic Act (RA) 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 stressed.

“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,” said the senator.