Quezon City. Campaigners for public health, environmental justice and climate protection today marked the 9th year of the Clean Air Act by calling for the strict enforcement of the ban on garbage incineration as well as the ban on open dumping.
Dumps and incinerators, the waste and pollution watchdog explained, contribute to climate change by emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, trapping the heat and causing global temperature to rise.
To demonstrate the deleterious effects of wasting to the climate, the EcoWaste Coalition members put a huge globe made of papier mache on top of a big earthen pot to suggest the “cooking of the planet” as a result of polluting human activities such as garbage dumping and burning.
“Through our action today, we are telling the government to keep its promise of protecting the public health from dump and incinerator pollutants that can put our people, water, food, environment and climate in grave danger, while depriving the economy of valuable resources that can be reused, repaired, recycled or composted,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives said.
“We all know that climate change is real and that wasting contributes to the warming cycle. To address this most serious threat to the planet, we can take action in our own home, workplace and community by avoiding wasteful consumption, recycling our discards, saving energy and living sustainably,” Cathy Untalan, Executive Director of Miss Earth Foundation, said.
Today’s event drew the participation of the following groups: Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Earth Renewal Project, Earth UST, GAIA, Health Care Without Harm, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan and Zero Waste Philippines.
Even with the skyrocketing oil prices, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that it does not make any sense to weaken or lift the ban on incineration for the so-called purpose of generating energy from waste.
Incinerators, the green group pointed out, waste more energy by turning reusable, recyclable and compostable materials into toxic ash and smoke. Waste prevention, reduction, recycling, composting and other elements of Zero Waste conserve more energy by hugely decreasing the need for virgin raw materials.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, Zero Waste is climate-friendly for it reduces the releases of carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuel energy associated with the extraction, processing and transportation of raw materials and their manufacturing into goods. It minimizes the cutting of trees and the clearing of mountains, while it increases the carbon storage in soils with the composting of biodegradable discards and the application of the byproduct compost into the soil.
The Clean Air Act (Republic Act 8749), signed by then President Joseph Estrada on 23 June 1999, is a comprehensive legislation providing for a national air pollution management to protect the right of every person to breathe clean air. The Clean Air Act, among other measures, prohibits the incineration of municipal, medical and industrial wastes that emits toxic and poisonous fumes.
The following year, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act 9003) was enacted, reinforcing the ban on incineration with the explicit exclusion of incineration as among the best environmental practices in solid waste management. R.A. 9003 further bans the open dumping and open burning of discards.
The EcoWaste Coalition considers the ban on incineration ban now enshrined in two major environmental laws as a vital preventive policy that has, among others, avoided valuable resources from being turned into toxic ash and smoke, reduced the discharge of harmful byproducts from combustion processes, and averted the squander of public funds for expensive,
imported and superfluous materials destruction technology.
Additional information: 1. The report “Stop Trashing the Climate” that was released on June 5, 2008 indicates that “a zero waste approach is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies we can use to protect the climate and the environment.” Please click to read the full report, executive summary and key findings of this report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Eco-Cycle and GAIA:
2. The same report shows that 1) “landfills are the largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions in the U.S.” and 2) “incinerators emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour than coal-fired, natural-gas-fired, or oil-fired power plants.”
3. Percentage of energy saved by using recycled instead of raw materials to manufacture: 40% for glass, 40% newspaper, 60% steel, 70% plastics and 95% aluminum. (Source: Natural Resources Defense Council, Aluminum Association, both of US)
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