THE key to the solution of Cebu City’s puzzling garbage dumping woes is faithful implementation of waste segregation from the collection sites to the dumping site.
Having only a single dumping site historically is an indicator that waste segregation had been a challenge, an ineffectively managed challenge.
Rational waste segregation assumes a well-demarcated waste disposal and the associated dumpsites to receive these segregated trash from collection sites. For instance, non-biodegradable wastes must be dumped separately from biodegradables. In a single-dumpsite system, all these wastes are processed inappropriately in a single site. And that is unfortunate.
Oftentimes though the sound scientific foundation of waste segregation can become unfortunately neglected or ignored.
Take biodegradable wastes, for instance. These wastes cannot be completely eradicated from collection sites no matter the information drive for recycling these wastes at home. However, when dumped in sites together with non-biodegradables, they increase the garbage bulk in the dumpsite, utilizing an area which could have been used for processing non-bios.
Scientific facts show that the carbon dioxide and other degradation products of biodegradables are almost completely usable by plants and trees. Thus, it should be logical to dump biodegradables in strategically created dumpsites inside Cebu City’s remaining forested areas.
The good thing is, even protected forest areas can benefit from this strategy. These biodegradable wastes nourish the trees and plants there while taking away a large volume of garbage from Cebu City’s single dumpsite.
With some concerted political coordination, provincial forests can be better nourished by biodegradable dumping in well-planned forest locations throughout the island. Other cities in the province can also benefit from this program.
There are however important cautions to take note of when pursuing this strategy.
First, avoid treating biodegradable wastes for dumping in forests. The treatment can harm the forests more than the wastes themselves.
Second, the implementation must be precise and well monitored to prevent abuse, such as including poisonous substances (e.g. industrial chemicals) among biodegradable wastes.
Third, the dumping volume capacity of each forest area must be scientifically determined to avoid overwhelming the area beyond its capacity for immediately non-usable bio wastes. When these limits are reached, a new forest must be selected in a classic rotation mechanism.
William Ruckelshaus was once quoted writing in Business Week: “Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.” Here is a free dumping solution that our city administrators may use with necessary foresight and discipline.