PHILIPPINES | Groups Say No to Waste-to-Energy on Zero Waste Month

Quezon City, Philippines -- In celebration of Zero Waste Month in the Philippines, Health Care Without Harm Asia joined the country’s environmental network in a series of activities and events that promoted sustainable waste practices and intensified the call to stop plans to use waste-to-energy (WtE) technologies in the country.

During the 13th Zero Waste International Conference held at the Bahay ng Alumni in Quezon City, experts emphasized why burn technologies such as incineration and WtE pose a serious threat to public health.

"The problem is that waste-to-energy plants produce some of the most toxic materials known to humans, so by using waste-to-energy, we are releasing these substances called dioxins that stay in the environment for hundreds and hundreds of years, that are toxic at very small concentrations, very tiny concentrations," said environmental scientist Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, professor at Siliman University and a former senior consultant for the United Nations Development Program’s Global Environment Facility Project.

Dr. Jorge Emmanuel explains the negative impacts of using WtE technologies.

Despite the Clean Air Act, the Philippine government is planning to bring in waste-to-energy technologies from Japanese companies to several cities across the Philippines to address the local governments’ waste management problems.

“Instead of resorting to band-aid solutions which cause greater irreparable damage to Filipinos’ health in the long run, our national and local governments should instead strictly implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. As showcased by many model cities and municipalities who are successful in minimizing and recycling wastes, what it takes is strong political will from our local government units,” explained Medical Waste Campaigner Ayeth Enrile.

The HCWH Asia booth at the Zero Waste Fair in Quezon Memorial Circle.

“With over 4 billion people or more than half of the world population living in urban areas and are engaged in different economic activities, improper solid waste management has become a serious problem out front among other formidable global environmental problems that need urgent attention,” said Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez. “This silently working and dangerous problem continues to inflict health problems and cause environmental degradation, disasters, and further aggravation to climate change.”

January was declared Zero Waste Month in 2014 by former President Benigno Aquino III under Proclamation 760 in recognition of the importance of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act in promoting environmental awareness and action among Filipinos on the importance of sound waste management policies and solutions. HCWH Asia is part of the EcoWaste Coalition, together with groups green groups such as Mother Earth Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), and Greenpeace.