REPUBLIC Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, banned the use of dumpsites as waste disposal facility since 2006. Under the 18-year old law, only sanitary landfills and other DENR-approved disposal methods, are allowed. So far, sanitary landfills, like the one in Kalangitan, Capas, Tarlac, are the ones widely used. The problem with this type of facility is that they are not cheap.

According to a recent DENR press release, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu wants to make the establishment and operation of a sanitary landfill easier and less expensive. This is to help local government units (LGUs) to set up their own solid waste management facility amid the worsening garbage collection and disposal problem in the country. He noted that a lot of LGUs find it difficult to comply with the law as building and maintaining a sanitary landfill is costly and complicated.

Secretary Cimatu specifically instructed DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda to “review and revise” DENR Administrative Order 2001-34 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9003 “to make way for better and bigger sanitary landfills.

I’m not sure if Secretary Cimatu is aware that the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) has long addressed this concern. The Commission came up with less expensive designs to give an option to LGU’s to build their own sanitary landfills. While cheaper, the scaled down versions are still compliant with the law.

Under NSWMC Resolution No. 6 approved in December, 2005, and later implemented by DENR Administrative Order 2006-10, sanitary landfills were categorized into four types. Category 1, for LGUs or cluster of LGU’s with net residual waste of less than or equal to 15 tons per day (TPD). Category 2 for those with greater than 15 TPD but less than or equal to 75 TPD, category 3 for those with greater than 75 TPD but less than or equal to 200 TPD and category 4 for waste greater that 200TPD.

All categories are required to have daily and intermediate soil cover , embankment /cell separation , drainage facility and methane gas venting. Leachate collection and treatment for categories 1, 2 and 3 can be provided at a later stage while a physical and biological treatment of leachate is required for category 4.

To prevent seepage of leachate to the ground, category 1 and 2 SLF requires clay lining only and not a synthetic HDPE plastic liner which is expensive. Category 3 can either be a clay liner or an equivalent plastic liner. A category 4 SLF requires both clay and plastic lining.

Is Secretary Cimatu aware of the existing Administrative Order on categorized sanitary landfill or is he thinking of an even better and cheaper design for a final disposal facility?