By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Republic Cement, one of the country’s cement manufacturers, has partnered with the municipality of Teresa, Rizal for an innovative waste management program that seeks to support the community, barangay and the private sector sustainably.
The municipality of Teresa operates a materials recovery facility (MRF) in Barangay Pantay where some of its residents work to convert agricultural waste into compost or garden soil, plant fruits and vegetables in a mini forest.
Others make charcoal out of paper waste and shred plastic waste into bits for making pillows, construction materials and refuse derived fuel (RDF) for firing a cement plant furnace.
According to Engr. Marlon Pielago, Teresa municipal environment and natural resources officer, a memorandum of agreement was signed between Republic Cement and the town of Teresa.
The agreement stipulates that the MRF will supply Republic Cement plant with RDF for its cement kilns twice a month. In turn, a ton of RDF is paid with eight bags of cement. The cement goes to the barangay to encourage it to supply the MRF with plastic waste for conversion into RDF.
With the cement plant needing 15 tons of RDF per month, each of Teresa’s nine villages can supply 1.6 tons of residual waste per month, good for 13 bags of cement needed for local construction.
In making hollow blocks embedded with residual plastics, the MRF sources its supply from Republic Cement, which sells its cement at a discount. The MRF is thus able to produce hollow blocks at a lower cost and sell it at P1 or P2 lower than the market price, which benefits local consumers.
Pielago estimates that every barangay can earn as much as P35,000 worth of cement per year out of plastic waste.
On the local level, the partnership between the MRF and the cement plant is already producing benefits.
“The main benefit is you divert trash. Instead of bringing it to the landfill, you eliminate it from the system,” says Pielago.
He added the LGU earns money, which it can use for further improving its waste management program. The people become aware of segregation and make it a practice.
Barangay leaders are happy and the village gets cleaner. “By making RDF,plastic waste will no longer end up in rivers and instead be useful,” said Pielago.
As for the cement plant, it avoids the use of coal, which produces a dirtier emission while saving on cost as traditional fuels are more expensive. If all cement manufacturers nationwide adopt the scheme, the benefit in terms of waste reduction, employment and countryside development is exponential.
The Teresa MRF has become a livelihood hub, as it has attracted a number of residents who had been willing to work but could not find a stable job or who had to make do as scavengers.