Quezon City, Philippines – Civil society groups, informal waste workers associations, faith-based institutions, trade unions, academe and community-based organizations from all over the country called for the withdrawal of Senate Bill No. 1789, also known as the “Waste-to-Energy Act” authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.
In a letter sent to the Senate members of the 18th Congress and signed by over 100 organizations, the groups said that they were seriously concerned about the harm that Waste-to-Energy (“WtE”) technologies and facilities pose to human health, the environment, and to the economic standing of local government units.
“WtE facilities are ineffective solutions to deal with waste. Scientific studies clearly show that incineration processes in WtE facilities emit significant quantities of direct greenhouse gases, and are sources of indirect greenhouse gases including large amounts of dioxins and furans,” the groups said.
According to Atty. Gob Alimangohan of EcoWaste Coalition, allowing WtE incineration prevents the country from pursuing solutions that conserve resources, protect health and which do not harm the climate.
“WtE technologies and facilities are false solutions that will cause more harm than good. The claims that these facilities are safe, effective and economically beneficial are inaccurate. There are scientific studies and illustrative cases from all over the world that show that WtE facilities harm human health, damage the environment and are ruinously expensive to maintain. In addition to these direct harms, these technologies also create a false narrative about the appropriate responses to waste management and take away necessary support for actual sustainable solutions,” he said.
Currently, incineration is prohibited under the Clean Air Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. If approved, the bill will only benefit the plastics industry and foreign waste management companies, the groups said.
“WtE incinerators are a convenient excuse for plastic polluters to avoid accountability for dealing with the worsening toxic pollution associated with their products,” Ecowaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero said.
“Instead of championing harmful and quick-fix solutions like waste-to-energy incinerators, perhaps Senator Gatchalian could champion a bill that would ban single-use and other disposable plastic packaging and products,” she added.
The groups said that there are viable solutions instead of misleading the minds of the public to accept the proposed bill. They stressed that municipalities and barangays in the country are successfully practicing zero-waste in accordance with RA 9003 which is a circular system that minimizes unnecessary extraction and consumption, reduces waste, and ensures that products and materials are reused or recycled back into nature or into the market.