Australian firm eyes Davao WTE project

Australian firm eyes Davao WTE project
SunStar File

A DAVAO City Councilor announced that an Australian firm is keen on advancing the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) project. which was previously halted after the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) withdrew its support.

Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo said during the Aprubado sa Konseho media forum on Tuesday morning, May 14, 2024, at the Sangguniang Panlungsod,  that an Australian firm, along with its European partner experienced in energy generation, has expressed interest in the WTE project. 

Ocampo, who chairs the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, mentioned that the Davao City Investment Promotion Center (DCIPC) is currently in discussions with this firm, which intends to implement a new waste conversion technology without incineration.

The prospective firm plans to establish a 50-megawatt power plant, a significant increase from Jica's proposed 12-megawatt plant. They have assured the City Government of Davao that no payment will be required for constructing the power plant, provided the city offers the necessary land.

“Wala may i-invest ang siyudad miskag piso ani ang atoa lang i-provide is yuta (If we provide the land, the city won’t need to invest a single peso),” he said. 

Regarding opposition from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Ocampo said that the council would explore alternative funding sources. 

Additionally, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Davao could consider a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to engage international or local private companies interested in developing city projects.

To recall, the project was previously halted after the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) withdrew its support in the project on January 26, 2023.

However, the Davao City-based environment group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) said that despite the technology being non-incineration, it could still negatively impact the environment and human health.

Ocampo disclosed that the DCIPC and the 20th Council would travel to Poland and Germany to observe the firm's technology firsthand.

Atty. Mark Peñalver, executive director of Idis, expressed concerns that although the new WTE project avoids incineration, it may not effectively resolve the city's waste issues. He suggested that a more sustainable approach would involve urging companies to adopt eco-friendly packaging and enforcing existing waste management regulations and facilities.

He cautioned that even without incineration, heating plastics in the process could release chemicals and toxins, potentially leading to new issues for the LGU. 

He also underscored the importance of strictly implementing city ordinances and giving them a chance before exploring alternative solutions. RGP

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