EcoGroups Ask Davao City Officials to Junk “Waste-to-Energy” Proposals

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rei Panaligan, EcoWaste Coalition – 0920-9062348Betty Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation – 0918-5315110
DAVAO CITY- The pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition urge Mayor Sara Duterte and the Davao City officials to cast aside incinerators disguising as “waste-to-energy” facilities proposed by foreign companies Herhof and Sinovia Capital.

“Either proposal promotes burning of otherwise valuable resources – which is in fundamental conflict with our Clean Air and Ecological Solid Waste Management Acts,” said Rei Panaligan of the EcoWaste Coalition, a public network of more than 125 environmental, health and community organizations and networks.

“We strongly urge Mayor Duterte to reconsider her options and refrain from signing any Memorandum of Agreement with these companies. Knowing that the best ecological alternatives such as waste segregation, re-use, recycling and composting are more economical, it will not be in the best interest of Davao City if these companies are allowed to burn away the city’s useful discards,” he emphasizes.

In a letter sent by the coalition to Mayor Duterte last week, the group claims that both Sinovia’s gasification and Herhof’s Stabilat waste-to-energy processes are toxic and hazardous to both surface environment and groundwater reservoirs.

“Mixed solid waste, even as ‘pellets’ promoted by Herhof, are laden with toxic substances and chemicals. When garbage is burned, extremely toxic heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and dioxins, a substance hazardous to human health and wildlife, may be released to our air, soil and water. Furthermore, incinerating waste generates toxic ash and other by-products which need landfilling, which means that the city will be forced to host an additional highly-toxic waste disposal facility,” said Panaligan.

Meanwhile the Davao City-based environmental group Kinaiyahan Foundation also asks Davao City officials not to fall for “sugar-coated” promises of both companies, and instead urge them to demand from both companies full feasibility studies and data on environmental impacts, appropriate clearances, proof of public acceptance, closure plan and other important information before even considering any long-term agreements. Kinaiyahan Foundation is a member of the Davao City Solid Waste Management Board.

“These companies are saying that Davaoeños will not spend a dime for these projects but, in reality, the city might have to sacrifice a lot of things and could very well be at the mercy of these companies in the future,” said Betty Cabazares, Executive Director of Kinaiyahan Foundation.

“Burning waste directly competes with smaller industries and communities engaged in recycling, composting and waste collection, and also undermines the city’s commendable efforts to promote environmental stewardship to its citizens,” she added. Both the EcoWaste Coalition and Kinaiyahan Foundation believe that the city can achieve sustainable solution to its garbage woes by strengthening the ecological solid waste management program in every barangay, enhancing the city’s collection and recycling systems, mandating bio-digesters and similar waste treatment facilities to big and private institutions, and intensifying composting towards the promotion of organic agriculture and urban gardens.