TWO landmark laws that ban incineration as a means of garbage disposal are in danger of being repealed with a new law that has been proposed in Congress.
As this developed, several environmental groups warned top multinational offending brands against pushing for incineration as a solution to the worsening garbage crisis in the recently conducted eight-day cleanup and waste and brand audit in the Philippines.
The Philippine Clear Air Act of 1999 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act of 2000 makes the Philippines the first and thus far the only country in the world with a national ban on incineration.
The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said that instead of pushing for incineration as a solution to the worsening garbage crisis, the offending multinational companies should take responsibility for the waste they generate.
Anne Larracas, GAIA managing director for Asia-Pacific said, “It is already bad enough that these companies are pushing products and packaging that are polluting our oceans and waterways. It’s even worse that they and government officials tasked with protecting our natural resources and safeguarding public health are promoting wrong solutions to the waste crisis, particularly, incineration technologies.”
“Incineration is not a short-term or long-term solution. You can’t solve this problem by building multi-million dollar facilities to be subsidized by public funds that will just transform solid waste into another toxic pollution problem. Doing so will just create more problems,” Larracas stressed.
The groups are also pushing for the strict implementation of the ESWM law which reinforces the ban on incineration; decentralizes waste management from the city to the barangay (village); requires waste separation at source and door-to-door collection, and the creation of a materials recovery facility in every barangay for composting and storage of residuals and recyclables.
“The reason we have a waste crisis is because many cities and barangay are not implementing the law,” Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation (MEF), said.
Mendoza said MEF has been tirelessly working with communities and cities in the proper implementation of the solid waste law and have been working with other Asian countries in implementing Zero Waste since 2016.
“In cities and communities that strictly implement the law, compliance can be as high as 96 percent resulting in waste diversion from landfills by more than 80 percent,” Mendoza added.
She pointed out that it only shows that when cities own the responsibility to properly implement a waste program, people comply.
Last September, hundreds of volunteers collected more than 50,000 pieces of plastic waste on Freedom Island in Manila. Among these wastes are top brands like Nestle with over 9,000 products, Unilever and Indonesian brand PT Torabika, Procter & Gamble, Monde Nissin and Colgate-Palmolive.
The cleanup was co-organized by Greenpeace, GAIA, Ecowaste Coalition, Health Care Without Harm, and Mother Earth Foundation — all members of the global movement #breakfreefromplastic—in partnership with several wastepickers and grassroots organizations.
Froilan Grate, GAIA’s regional coordinator for Asia Pacific, said the outcomes are consistent with the results of waste and brand audits that GAIA and MEF have been conducting in the Philippines and other countries.
“The companies that pollute our seas are the very same companies that have burdened communities with waste that can neither be composted nor recycled,” Grate said.
He said they are calling on companies to use materials in their products and packaging that can be truly recovered, reused and recycled and to invest in alternative delivery systems that will bring their products to the public without the low value, disposable packaging.
“Companies conveniently blame the public, their consumers, for plastic pollution, when their products are almost impossible to manage. Companies are only too happy to pass on to cities and the public the
responsibility of addressing the waste that their products create,” Grate said.