Lawmakers Cautioned on Legalizing Use of Incinerators

Quezon City. The reported talk among some lawmakers to lift the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act in light of the country’s growing energy requirements was met with strong disapproval from public health, environmental justice and climate action groups.

“Our lawmakers should realize that waste to energy incinerators actually result in a waste of energy and resources. We would be regressing in our attempts to improve the recovery of finite resources and curb global warming if these misinformed initiatives push through,” Von Hernandez of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said.

A fact sheet prepared by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) on incineration, energy and climate explains that incinerators waste huge amounts of energy, while releasing high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Incinerators are deemed “energy wasters,” capturing small amounts of energy by destroying large quantities of recyclable materials. Preventing, reducing, recycling and composting discards, on the other hand, are regarded as “energy savers,” conserving energy by significantly reducing the need for virgin raw materials. The percentage of energy saved, for instance, by using recycled instead of raw resources to manufacture is 40% for glass, 40% newspaper, 60% steel, 70% plastics, and 95% aluminum.

The new report “Stop Trashing the Climate,” which was released on World Environment Day, reveals that incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per megawatt hour than coal-fired, natural gas-fired and oil-fired power plants, further confirming that incinerators are not climate-friendly.

“Lifting the prohibition on garbage incineration will deal a death blow to ecological solid waste management, terminate the resource cycle and lead to further degradation of the environment,” warned Ester Perez de Tagle, founder of the Concerned Citizens Against Pollution and member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Open Burning and Incineration.

The EcoWaste Coalition sees the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act of 1999, which was later reaffirmed in the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, as an essential policy that has, among others, prevented valuable materials from being turned into toxic ash, reduced the discharge of harmful byproducts from combustion processes, and averted the squander of public money for costly, imported and superfluous materials destruction technology.

In the face of skyrocketing oil prices and climate change, the legislature, instead of thinking of lifting the incineration ban, should hasten the passage of the renewable energy bill now pending at the Senate, the EcoWaste Coalition stated. This will, once enacted, lay down the development framework for the country’s massive renewable energy potential estimated at 200,000 megawatts from a combination of wind, solar and other energy sources.

“We appeal to every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate to uphold the spirit and intent of the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, support renewable energy sources to meet the country’s power needs, and back Zero Waste as a vehicle for fostering sustainable enterprises, generating green jobs, cleaning up the environment and protecting the climate,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA said.

– end –

Link to the two-page fact sheet “Incinerators vs Zero Waste: Energy and the Climate”:

EcoWaste Coalition Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St. Quezon City, Philippines +63 2 9290376 ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com