Environmental groups dismayed by Japanese funding for WTE project

NATIONAL and local environment groups have expressed dismay over the Japanese funding for a waste-to-energy incinerator project in Davao City.

Last Friday, March 23, the Davao city-based Interface Development Interventions (Idis) and Quezon City-based Ecowaste Coalition issued a statement opposing the 5.013-billion Japanese yen (roughly P2.5 billion) grant from Japan for the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator plant in Davao City.

The groups reiterated their opposition to the incinerator project following the signing of the Exchange of Notes last March 20, 2018 between Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City.

According to the Japanese Embassy, “Japan’s grant will be used to construct and manage waste-to-energy facilities to significantly reduce solid wastes and convert it into usable energy,” adding that “this project is expected to serve as an innovative example of sustainable waste management to other cities in the Philippines.”

Chinkee Peliño-Golle, Idis executive director, said the project will not solve the issue of massive waste production of Davao city but will only aggravate it as the plant’s operation will require the steady generation of voluminous trash to be burned to make it economically viable.

“This is not the way to solve our city’s garbage problem. Incinerating discards will rather result in more environmental, health and socio-economic problems for the city government and our people. Waste-to-energy incineration is not the solution,” Golle said.

Anti-incinerator campaigner Ruel Cabile of the EcoWaste Coalition said in the same joint statement that the ODA grant for Davao City’s waste-to-energy incinerator could open the floodgates for similar schemes to be established in the guise of solving the country’s garbage woes.

“We find the aggressive push by Japan to export their waste-to-energy disposal technologies to the Philippines truly worrisome, especially if this is seen as part of the ‘Golden Age of Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries. We must be on our guard against incineration-based schemes that will undermine, if not kill, zero waste strategies and programs,” Cabile said.

He added that the people need to be mindful of the hidden costs of such schemes, particularly on their adverse impacts on recycling jobs and enterprises and on human health and environment.

In place of incineration, Idis and the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to commit to a vigorous implementation of zero waste policies and programs, in line with R.A. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), that will prevent waste and expand waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting strategies, including making “polluter pays” and making manufacturers responsible for their products and their packaging.

Last January 22, 2018, Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio confirmed that the city government of Davao has already submitted the endorsement sought by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) National Government to push for the waste-to-energy project.

She said the project is now under the national government, with the city as identified recipient.

To recall, Duterte-Carpio visited Kitakyushu City in Fukuoka, Japan, last December 2017, and signed the "green sister city agreement" with Kitakyushu, during which Japanese officials also revealed their interest to put up WTE project in Davao.

Based on reports, during the press conference of the two-day Kakao Konek 2017 at SMX convention center, Duterte-Carpio said that President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with representatives from private firm in Japan, have tackled the possibility of putting up WTE facilities in the country.

She said the WTE project in Davao City will continue without the financial participation of the City Government, as the money will come from the private sector of the Philippines and Japan and from the Japanese government. (With PR)
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