Green Groups Cast Doubts on “Clean and Renewable” Landfill Gas to Energy Project

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition raised serious doubts about the much-trumpeted environmental and climate benefits of the methane gas collection project in Rodriguez, Rizal that will be inaugurated today by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The waste and pollution watchdog questions the President’s endorsement of the project as a “model solution” to climate change and a “renewable energy source” as contained in the widely published one-page advertisement paid for by the Montalban Methane Power Corporation to mark the facility’s formal opening.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the best way to cut the release of methane into the atmosphere is to ban the disposal of biodegradable or organic matters in dumpsites and to enforce Zero Waste programs anchored on waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling and composting. The group stressed that since methane is an offshoot of dumping, and dumping is such a destructive way to manage the society’s discards, landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) can not be deemed a renewable energy source.

“It’s a band-aid ‘solution’ that does not curb the production of methane. If the government is sincere in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from dumps, it must keep all biodegradable materials out of dumps and push for innovative Zero Waste programs nationwide,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“The methane gas power plant was established as a justification for the existence of the illegal glorified Rodriguez dumpsite and will only encourage hauling of more garbage. We don’t need to spend a treasure for waste management. The people and the community can manage their own discards by using the inexpensive proven method of waste prevention, segregation, recycling and composting – the ecological way of managing wastes,” Joey Papa, President of the Bangon Kalikasan Movement stated

“The LFGTE technology feeds on a wasteful pattern of disposing organic materials into the dumps instead of composting them into effective and safe soil nutrients that can help in restoring depleted farmlands while cutting farmers’ dependence on chemical farm inputs such as toxic pesticides. To put a cap to wastefulness and greenhouse gas emissions from dumps, we urge the government to embrace Zero Waste and not just rely on piecemeal measures,” added Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

Methane is a global warming gas that has 23 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. In the US, landfills are largest sources of methane emissions, with those from municipal waste landfills comprising 94% of total landfill emissions, while industrial landfills made up the rest.

The EcoWaste Coalition explained that LFGTE systems do not necessarily prevent substantial discharge of methane due to inbuilt inefficiencies in the systems to capture all the methane produced.

The group cited a paper by a US-based Zero Waste advocate Peter Anderson saying that “LFGTE is a non-productive approach that fails to overcome the fact that, especially in a world concerned with climate change, land disposal alone – of all the other options to manage discards – creates the enormous volumes of methane that are among the most significant contributors to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The promise of electricity from the methane gas collection should not deceive communities already serving as garbage dumpsites or those being eyed as new dumpsites. With the push for the so-called ‘energy from waste,’ we see no end to dumping since there is now a purported use for landfills. This will not encourage our society to aim and work for Zero Waste,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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