MANILA, Philippines — In a series of nationwide protest actions held on Wednesday for the National Day of Action on Climate Emergency, environmental groups and people’s organizations belonging to No Burn Pilipinas and Break Free From Plastic PH Project (BFFP) called on the government to drop the legalization of garbage incineration in the guise of waste-to-energy plants and instead pass sustainable and comprehensive waste management policies and safer practices that would reduce waste.
The groups stressed that by allowing waste-to-energy incineration in the country amid the climate emergency declaration, this will continue to pose threats to public health that will further degrade and contaminate the environment violating existing environmental laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act.
“We need the government’s sincerity in addressing the climate emergency. There must be a comprehensive plan including policies in mitigating the climate crisis and to disallow the funding of dirty energy projects by corporations that greatly contribute to climate change which endanger the health of citizens due to the release of poisonous chemicals such as dioxins and furans. Among these projects are waste-to-energy incineration facilities that proponents argue will solve the garbage crisis,” said Glenn Ymata of No Burn Pilipinas.
“A Climate Emergency Declaration must consider the environment and communities in all policies, decision making and implementation processes. Senator Win Gatchalian’s Waste-to-Energy Bill must be scrapped immediately and lawmakers should approve the green laws pending in the 18th Congress, such as the National Single-use Plastics Ban and National Land Use Act as well as ordinances that would hold culprits accountable of climate disaster and crisis,” bared Aileen Lucero of EcoWaste Coalition.
“While we welcome the resolution to declare Climate Emergency, we need genuine immediate and long term sustainable plans and decisive actions that are comprehensive in addressing the adverse impacts of climate change and disasters. We need urgent steps to safeguard our country’s lands from further misuse and degradation. There are existing and proven solutions in dealing with waste at the local level that do not require burning or incineration such as the Zero Waste approach,” added Derek Cabe of Nuclear Free Bataan Movement.
The groups also demanded an Executive Order be issued immediately so that national agencies and LGUs will be compelled to take actions to stop waste-to-energy projects in communities and the pending bill on waste-to-energy incineration.
“The question has always been “development for whom?” Projects such as the WTE facilities always tend to lack transparency about the long term effects of such projects to the communities and the people in the area. Take the WTE facility to be erected in Biao, Davao City. They promised the residents that they will be given priority when it comes to job hiring, and that their community will benefit from the electricity it will generate. However, in reality, the electricity that will be generated is only very minimal and technically, the plastics will still be incinerated, harming the community and the environment in the process,” quipped Grecian Asoy, member of Panalipdan Youth Mindanao
“Aside from the hazardous residue streams, WTE incineration blocks the implementation of Zero Waste strategies and imposes long-term financial burdens on local governments, and perpetuates the linear economic model of extraction, production, consumption, and disposal. In Cebu City for example, there is a planned joint venture with New Sky Energy (Philippines). Under the proposed Joint Venture Agreement, 600 metric tons of guaranteed waste feedstock will be required daily from the Cebu City Government. Burning this waste would exacerbate the emission of harmful greenhouse gases that contributes further to global warming. We need an EO to stop this immediately! ,” averred Teody Navea of Sanlakas Cebu.
The groups added that petitions will be submitted to the Senate as well to counter the issuance of any laws, permits and certificates for the operation of WTE facilities so that lawmakers will be obliged to allocate resources in building safer waste management facilities and sustainable practices.