Waste-To-Energy is NOT Zero-waste

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos - CDN Digital | December 19,2019 - 07:11 AM

Local government units (LGUs) in Cebu and in other parts of the country should better think twice in entertaining notions of hosting polluting waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities, without being held accountable.

By embarking on WTE as a quick-fix solution to the current waste mismanagement, local authorities may be held liable for violation of their primary mandate of protecting the right of their constituents to health and a healthy and safe environment.

As Dr. Paul Connett, co-founder of the Zero Waste movement says, “Waste to Energy Facilities are extremely expensive, pollutes the environment and produces very little energy.” He visited Cebu this year and spoke before non-government and peoples organization, courtesy of No Burn Philippines and EcoWaste Coalition.

Waste-to-energy technology is not Zero-Waste, as Eco-cycle Solutions point out.

“Waste-to-energy (WTE) systems perpetuate our throw-away society and unsustainable consumption. When we burn materials to produce energy, the resources used to make those products and packaging are destroyed, which means we must continue to extract more resources from the Earth to make new products. And we’ll use MORE energy in the process—more than was generated in the WTE facility. That is not moving us toward a circular economy and that is not Zero Waste…

Waste-to-energy (WTE) is a disposal technology that destroys resources forever—it doesn’t reduce waste or protect natural resources, and in the end we will use more energy to manufacture new products from virgin materials than we produced burning trash for energy.

The true goal of Zero Waste is not just zero waste to landfill or zero waste-to-energy, but redesigning our entire cycle of resource extraction, consumption, and discard management so no resources are wasted at any point along the way.”

For Dr. Connett, the 10 steps to Zero-waste are as follows: 1) Source Separation, 2) Door to Door Collections, 3) Composting, 4) Recycling, 5) Reuse, Repair and Community Centre, 6) Waste Reduction Initiatives, 7) Economic Incentives, 8) Residual Separation and Research Centre, 9) Industrial Responsibility, 10) Temporary Landfill.

These are embedded in the widely unimplemented statute RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which clearly ordains “waste minimization and compliance with the solid waste avoidance and volume reduction through source reduction and waste minimization measures, including composting, recycling, re-use, recovery, green charcoal process, and others, before collection, treatment and disposal in appropriate and environmentally sound solid waste management facilities in accordance with ecologically sustainable development principles”.

The landmark 1993 Oposa ruling through our very own Cebuano Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., declared “The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment.”

Under the Local Government Code of 1990 and our environmental laws, environmental protection is a duty devolved to the local governments. They have the principal mandate of protecting our environment and our rights, and one sure way to do that is by fully implementing and enforcing RA 9003.

Could we just allow them to run away from their responsibility and worse, impair our environment?

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