Editorial: Waste-to-energy, now wasted?

DURING Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte's time, waste-to-energy was a hot topic. There were proposals, some bogus, some worth considering. Now that the former Mayor has opted for a private life, there is no reason why waste-to-energy will no longer be considered (for as long as government is able to sweep away the bogus and their promo boys and girls garbed as government officials) because of three very valid reasons.

1. There will always be garbage and we've never been able to make a dent into the consciousness of our people about proper segregation of waste, anyway.

2. The population is growing and so will garbage and energy needs.

3. Coal is never a sustainable answer because first it's outsourced, second it will kill the environment sooner or later, no matter how nice any coal plant is being packaged today.

We can read up on the Asian Development Bank-funded waste-to-energy projects in the People's Republic of China as the country strives to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural and municipal waste disposal.

"The WTE option is very attractive for the PRC since the government has set the development of a recycling economy as a national goal," said Shuji Hashizume, Investment Specialist in ADB's Private Sector Operations Department, during the signing ceremony of a loan agreement between the ADB and the China Everbright International Ltd.

The project aims to treat about 7,300 tons of waste a day, generating around 1,240 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year by 2016. Greenhouse gas emissions are also expected to be slashed by about 638,000 tons per annum by 2018, the report from the ADB reads.

We don't generate that much waste, nor do we need that much power, but this should open our eyes on the possibility.

Davao City according to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) generates 460-500 tons a day of collected garbage, while Davao Light and Power Company says the coincident peak load for July 2014 is 319MW for the entire franchise area, meaning including Panabo and Braulio Dujali, as they don't have a separate data for Davao City. Still, that should already give you an idea of just how little we need compared to what China is embarking on.

We should never just sit down and do nothing just because our leaders say, we don't have the money. Former Tagum City mayor Rey Uy, a shrewd businessman and gold mine financier before joining politics, in his early years as mayor, said, "Ang kagwapo sa gobyerno, walay lugi. (The beauty of working with government is we don't lose)." That's his way of saying, there is a very long rein before any government goes bankrupt for as long as you know what financing institutions to tap and whose expertise to draw from.

There will never be enough money to fund multi-million, even multi-billion projects. Even private companies do not have that kind of money. That is where those in authority are expected to scrutinize loan facilities and service providers. In a business, the chief executive's decision to take out a loan to increase production and reduce cost at the proper time will determine the company's future competitiveness. The same goes in running a city, except that, we have been stalling on investments for vital facilities for so long already.


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