By Madelaine B. Miraflor
While the administration intensifies the implementation of Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) amid the country’s worsening garbage problems, a solid waste management firm now considers building a waste-to-energy plant, but without the intention of really venturing into energy sector.
“It is going to be a waste disposal project,” Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. (MCWM) President and Chief Executive Officer Rufo Colayco specified.
For MCWM, building a waste-to-energy plant is one of the solutions that can partly solve the country’s worsening garbage problems.
“If you look at it as power generation project, there’s the end. They should see it as waste disposal project that happens to have an electricity component,” Rufo said, not discounting the fact that the electricity you can generate from this kind of renewable energy facility would surely cost higher.
MCWM Director for Technical Services Holger Holst said Philippine population has been growing at a rapid pace. This means that waste generation will also grow.
“Waste is not finished. That’s for sure. Philippine population will double by 2050. You need so much area. We have to look for the next step how we can reduce the garbage. Reduction at 20 to 25 percent is not going to be enough,” Holst said.
MCWM currently owns a world-class sanitary landfill within the Clark Special Economic Zone, some 80 kilometers north of Manila.
The sanitary landfill is located on a 100-hectare land, of which 70 hectares are dedicated for the landfill, 10 hectares for recycling facilities and 5 hectares for offices and other infrastructure. The remaining 15 hectares acts as environmental buffer.
The facility comes with recycling facilities, leachate storage and treatments pods as well an environmental buffer.
As per Rufo, the sanitary landfill is the only one in the Philippines that conforms to internationally accepted standards that substantially exceed the requirements of RA 9003.
Right now, the company serves 90 municipalities in Central Luzon.
Both Holst and Rufo agreed that waste-to-energy could be the future of their company in the Philippines but that might not happen until the government started seeing it the way they see it.
“You generate electricity when you burn the waste. But the cost of cleaning up is high. The cost of electricity the plant will generate is not that competitive compared to that of a coal-fired power plant,” Rufo said.
“The last step is to have someone to sign a power purchase agreement with us but then they would look upon us as another power producer, which should not be the case. But I think the government will come around to seeing it that way,” he added.
Rufo said that the key is for the government to recognize that this is not a power producing project but a waste disposal project to further reduce the cost of waste disposal in the country.
Holst said to sustain economic growth, the government must make waste management a priority.
“They have to do something. They have to make this higher priority. Based on ADB [Asian Development Bank], the government should invest 1.5 percent of gross domestic product [GDP] for waste management and we are far away from that,” Holst said.
The government recently intensified its implementation of RA 9003, going after non-compliant companies as well as local government units (LGU).
This, after Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu promised to make the full implementation of RA 9003 as one of his top priorities soon after he assumed the DENR post in May last year.
As part of this effort, Cimatu even threatened to close down Boracay if a lot of companies and commercial establish in the islands will continue to defy the law.
Tags: Clark Special Economic Zone, garbage problems, Metro Clark Waste Management Corp., Philippine population, Rufo Colayco, solid waste management, Solid waste management firm mulls power plant, Technical Services Holger Holst, waste disposal project