Gatchalian pushes for use of waste-to-energy facilities amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) - Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday pushed for the use of waste-to-energy facilities for the proper management and disposal of household wastes.

In a statement, Gatchalian said household wastes, including medical wastes, have accumulated during the pandemic.

The senator added the Department of Health itself requires medical wastes to undergo treatment before being hauled to disposal facilities.

Gatchalian is one of the authors of Senate Bill No. 1789 or the proposed "Waste-to-Energy Act," which allows the use of WTE facilities in waste treatment and disposal, and to generate sustainable energy.

Gatchalian assured the public that the measure will require WTE facilities to comply with environmental laws.

"Contrary to arguments that the operation of a WTE plant poses a threat to public health and the environment, such facility will require air pollution control systems to ensure emissions are within the standards of the Philippine Clean Air Act. The bill establishing the framework for WTE facilities specifies this," he said.

The bill also states only waste treatment technologies that do not emit toxic and poisonous fumes into the environment will be allowed to operate. If the WTE facility is found non-compliant, it will be penalized and can be shut down by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Gatchalian, who also chairs the Senate Energy Committee, said WTE industries in Europe, North America, and Asia have developed technologies that produce thermoelectric energy, the conversion of heat directly into electricity.

He added WTE plants in Italy, Spain, Japan, and Germany have shown emissions are highly controlled and have passed their stringent regulations.

"WTE can even be a leading contributor to the planned reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as it will reduce fossil fuel usage and increase energy production through the use of renewable sources," Gatchalian said.

The senator also said the project proponent will be the one to shoulder the expense in the construction and operation of the facility, not the local government units. He added the processing fee paid by LGUs to these facilities will be subject to a "fair, reasonable, and equitable standard, criteria, and guideline."