Visiting Toxics Campaigner Cautions Against Investments in Emerging “Hi-Tech” Disposal Technologies

Quezon City. A significant step geared
towards the adoption of ecological waste management innovations in the
Philippines has taken place today as over 50 participants from various local government
units and national government agencies, as well as civil society groups took
part in a timely environmental forum.
The multi-stakeholder forum was convened by the
EcoWaste Coalition to increase critical  awareness
among policy makers and implementors on waste-to-energy incineration  technologies and  build support for low-cost, ecological and
sustainable non-burn alternatives that will accelerate  the full implementation of the Ecological
Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) and the Clean Air Act (RA 8749).
Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the
EcoWaste Coalition explained the need to “uphold the incineration ban under RA
8749 and RA 9003 amidst regressive legislative measures that can only
exacerbate instead of solving the nation’s lingering problems with garbage and
Lucero specifically cited House Bill 3161,
introduced by Caloocan 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice, which seeks to amend
Section 20 of RA 8749 to allow the use of incinerators to burn municipal,
bio-medical and hazardous wastes in light of the country’s garbage disposal
“Incinerating discards turns valuable resources
into hazardous ash and smoke poisoning communities near and afar with
pollutants that are difficult and expensive to deal with,” said Lucero.
“The combustion process releases a range of
harmful chemical byproducts depending on the makeup of materials burned. For
example, burning chlorinated materials such as polyvinyl chloride plastics
generates super toxic substances, including confirmed carcinogens like dioxins
and furans.  In addition, waste
incineration discharges toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury, as well
as greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which contribute
to global climate change,” she explained.

Visiting toxics policy expert Lee Bell from
Australia echoed Lucero’s statement, maintaining that “the people of the
Philippines should be proud of their laws banning waste incineration.”

“Communities and governments around the world
regard the incineration ban as a progressive policy which gives your country a
chance to leap frog expensive and polluting incinerator technologies and move
toward zero waste practices and a sustainable society. It would be a backward
step to reverse these laws,” added Bell.
Nascent technologies such as waste-to-energy
incineration schemes have gradually made its way at the local scene in the
recent years despite efforts by environmental and health groups to expose them
as “incinerators in disguise,” contravening RA 9003 and RA 8749.
“There are much better ways to maximize
recovery of resources from waste while saving energy, improving agriculture and
creating jobs than to lock your county into decades of waste incineration,”
explained Bell.
“Many developed countries fell into this trap
and are now struggling to break free of it. The Philippines is in a unique
position to avoid the dead-end waste policy of incineration and move rapidly to
a more competitive and sustainable society through zero waste practices,” he
The EcoWaste Coalition has invited Lee Bell of
Western Australia to share his scientific and technical expertise and
campaigning experience on waste-to-energy, incineration and other pollution
issues in a series of fora and meetings from March 4 to 7 in
Quezon City and Cebu City.