House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has urged the Senate to pass the waste-to-energy (WTE) bill, which seeks to allow and regulate the use of such technologies solve the country’s perennial garbage problem.
In a statement, Velasco said it was high time for the government to consider the adoption of WTE technologies in the treatment and disposal of solid waste as many of the landfills in the country will soon be filled up.
“The huge amount of waste that we produce threatens to overwhelm our landfills and create worse garbage disposal problems,” pointed out Velasco, who once sat as chairman of the House Committee on Energy.
“Before this happens, we must now look for cleaner and more sustainable [methods] to treat and dispose of solid waste, such as WTE,” he continued.
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading in November 2020 House Bill (HB) 7829 or the proposed “Waste Treatment Technology Act” with close to 200 lawmakers, including Velasco, as principal authors. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1789 or the proposed “Waste-to-energy Act,” filed by Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian, is pending on second reading.
HB7829 aims to allow the use of any WTE technology, including incineration, as long as it does not produce poisonous or toxic fumes. To do this, it would repeal Section 20 of Republic Act (RA) 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999, which currently bans incineration for WTE purposes.
“WTE facilities provide a safe, technologically advanced means of waste disposal that reduces greenhouse gases and generates clean energy,” the speaker said.
Velasco noted that WTE is widely recognized as a technology that can help mitigate climate change because the waste combusted at such facility does not generate methane as it would at a landfill. 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.
The speaker added that the electricity produced from a WTE facility offsets the greenhouse gases that would otherwise have been generated from coal and natural gas plants.
Currently, the only waste disposal method allowed under RA9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, is through sanitary landfills, which Velasco said is quite expensive and difficult to build, operate, and maintain.
Under HB7829, WTE facilities will be regulated to make sure they are fitted with equipment that will continuously monitor, record and make publicly available the reported data on their emissions or air pollutant concentrations. Entities using WTE technologies will, then, be required to incorporate in their facilities or operations appropriate material recovery program and their thermal units would only treat wastes at a temperature of not less than 850 degrees Celsius.
Photo from House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco Facebook page.