Green Groups Ask DENR Secretary to Enforce His No Landfill Commitment

22 September 2010, Quezon City, Philippines – The pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje to put into writing his commitment to suspend the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) to applications for sanitary landfills.
In a letter sent today by the EcoWaste Coalition, the group also urged Secretary Paje to launch, with public participation, a review and evaluation of the operation of all existing waste disposal facilities to determine their compliance with required health, environmental and other standards.
Secretary Paje declared his commitment to suspend the ECC issuance for landfill applications during the Green SONA or State of the Nature Address organized by Green Convergence last September 16, 2010 at Miriam College, Quezon City.
“Sanitary landfills are nothing but glorified dumps, polluting our environment and endangering public health. We hope that the good secretary will fulfill his commitment by issuing an appropriate administrative order within 15 days,” said Joey Papa of Bangon Kalikasan, a member of the Task Force Dumps of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Papa mentioned the so-called “sanitary” landfills in Barangays San Isidro and Minuyan Proper in the City of San Jose del Monte, both in the province of Bulacan, as examples of waste disposal facilities which were approved by the DENR but whose operations continue as hauling and dumping of mixed wastes and releasing toxic leachate to the water systems and polluting the environment.
“There is no such thing as a ‘sanitary’ landfill. Secretary Paje must immediately stop the operations of these toxic facilities,” said Papa.
As of the last quarter of 2009, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) recorded 30 landfills already operating and 42 under construction.
“Landfills are very expensive so landfill owners and operators will encourage more mixed wastes to be dumped into their facilities. Landfills undermine the implementation of our environmental laws and the efforts of many communities to sort and segregate waste at source, compost, and recycle” said Rei Panaligan of the EcoWaste Coalition.
According to the Coalition, most of the existing landfills are located in environmentally-critical areas such as protected areas, watershed, mountain ranges and foreshore lands.
Last July 2010, various green groups wrote to the DENR and the NSWMC asking them to “develop and adopt a policy that will establish a Zero Waste goal for the entire country and define essential strategies and actions towards a people-centered ecological resource management as a vehicle for environmental, economic and social renewal.”
In an open letter sent to the DENR and the NSWMC, the groups proposed the adopption of a “National Solid Waste Management Strategy anchored on waste prevention, volume and toxicity reduction, segregation at source, reusing, recycling and composting, and not on costly and polluting landfills and incinerators.”
They specifically urged the NSWMC to prioritize the adoption of
long-delayed policy that will curb pollution from plastic bags and other non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials.
Another policy concern that the NSWMC should prioritize, the groups emphasized, is on composting, which has the huge potential of ecologically addressing the country’s biodegradable waste.
To ensure that funds will be available for the monitoring, maintenance and post-closure care of waste disposal facilities such as “sanitary” landfills, the groups proposed the imposition of commensurate bonds by the contractor that will be sufficient to pay for the necessary expenditures such as for site cleanup and rehabilitation.
Among the groups who signed the EcoWaste Coalition’s letter to the DENR and the NSWMC were Ang Nars, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizen’s Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Studies Institute, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Green Convergence, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Interface Development Interventions and the Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives.

Open Letter to the DENR and NWSMC re Landfills: http://www.ecowastecoalition.org/2010/07/13/open-letter-to-denr-and-nswmc-regarding/

EcoWaste CoalitionUnit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.Quezon City, Philippines+63 2 441-1846ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com