DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Environmentalists from various groups raised concern over the safety of the waste-to-energy technology that the city plans to adopt as a solution to waste problem here.
In a forum spearheaded by the Ateneo de Davao University’s Ecoteneo, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a waste expert and former United Nation technical advisor on environmental concerns, said that waste to energy (WTE) creates thermal toxic substance called “dioxins.”
Emmanuel said dioxins are mostly toxic “even at the very small concentration” causing cancer that, “also affect people who are pregnant, burn defects, and dysfunction of ovaries.”
It could also affect the development of children, he added.
Contradicts existing laws
Environmentalists claimed that the utilization of WTE technology runs counter to the existing laws that ensure the protection of both the environment and the public health such as the Republic Act No. 8749 or the Clean Air Act and the Republic Act No. 9003 which provides framework for solid waste management program.
WTE technology is the process of incinerating waste products turning it into an energy that could be used for electricity, heat or transport fuels like diesel. During its process, toxic gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide were emitted.
For Von Hernandez of Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, the WTE would undermine the existing laws on environment protection.
“If you look at the waste segregation in Davao City, [there is] 50 to 60 percent biodegradable wastes,” he said.
“If you put a waste to energy plan and burn your waste, you undermine the law,” he added.
EcoWaste Coalition claimed that the government agencies are “pinning for costly magic bullets to solve waste problems, when proven, safe and sustainable solutions are already enshrined in our existing policies.”
Meanwhile, a school-based environment group here pointed out that the city already tested and proven the efficiency of “strict waste segregation” during its first three years of implementation.
“It is sad that the national government pushed for WTE,” Carmela Santos said, Ecoteneo director, an Ateneo de Davao University school-based environmental group.
“There are still challenges, we are not yet ready to talk about WTE,” Santos said.
Santos said that the issue on WTE could still be discussed. She said there are still several concerns regarding its sustainability to manage waste.(davaotoday.com)