Velasco urges Senate to pass waste-to-energy bill

Published January 28, 2021, 5:44 PM

by Ben Rosario

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco urged the Senate Thursday to pass its version of a bill encouraging the use of waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies to address the garbage disposal problem affecting various localities in the country.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco
(Lord Allan Velasco’s Office / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Velasco said the adoption of WTE technologies in the treatment and disposal of solid waste is expected to provide solution to filling up of landfills in the country.

“The huge amount of waste that we produce threatens to overwhelm our landfills and create worse garbage disposal problems,” Velasco said.

He added: “Before this happens, we must now look for cleaner and more sustainable method to treat and dispose of solid waste, such as WTE.”

Last year, the House approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) 7829 or the proposed Waste Treatment Technology Act with close to 200 lawmakers, including Velasco, signing on as principal authors.

The Senate version is authored by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian. This bill has been included in the bills scheduled for second reading approval.

HB 7829 aims to allow the use of any WTE technology, including incineration, as long as it does not produce poisonous or toxic fumes.

It seeks to amend Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999 by repealing Section 20 thereof to allow the use of incineration for WTE purposes.

According to Velasco, WTE technologies convert the waste into energy and thus minimize the amount of trash sent to landfills, which also reduces negative impacts on the surrounding environment.

“WTE facilities provide a safe, technologically advanced means of waste disposal that reduces greenhouse gases and generates clean energy,” said Velasco, who used to be the chairman of the House Committee on Energy.

According to Velasco the WTE is widely recognized as a technology that can help mitigate climate change because the waste combusted at a WTE facility does not generate methane as it would at a landfill.

He said the electricity produced from a WTE facility offsets the greenhouse gases that would otherwise have been generated from coal and natural gas plants.

WTE is widely used in European countries, where there are limited space for landfills. It has also worked to keep trash off the streets and waters in Japan and Singapore.

In the Philippines, the only waste disposal method allowed under RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 is sanitary landfill, which is quite expensive and difficult to build, operate, and maintain.

According to government data, only 30 percent of the country’s population has access to sanitary landfills, many of which are close to filling up. The country, meanwhile, generates an estimated 43,700 tons of garbage daily.