Garbage management concerns all

editorial april 2, 2017

HERE IS REASON TO CELEBRATE  the “go signal” by the Regional DENR -Environment Management Board for the Alburquerque Cluster Sanitary Landfill (ACSLF) to  begin disposing  off “residual” solid wastes of 16 cluster towns and the capital city.

Built upon 6.9 hectares in Albur at the cost of P300M from TIEZA (national government agency), the Landfill will store about 38 tons  of waste daily-complying with a law that mandates all LGUs to deal properly  with. 

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It is a technology used in many parts of the world. It is not a wheel re-invented. It preserves the environmental health of communities.

Everything of value,of course, has a price. It is P1,300 per ton tipping fee for towns and city alike,some small towns feeling the pinch more than others like the town of Cortes, A P100,000 seed money per town was earlier collected.

Designed to last 17 years, the Albur Landfill will cover  solid waste with clean fill or foam to prevent the air from being polluted while the waste inside decomposes and sealed underneath with “leak proof” thick plastic, robust clay soil and rock to prevent the liquid coming from rotting wastes from penetrating the underground sources of water.

Common items to be junked there would include, among others, plastic and metal  products, construction wastes,bottles, tin cans, computer and some medical wastes.

The government of Albur and its residents are to be congratulated for accepting this herculean task of playing host to the landfill. While there are clear monetary compensation for the risk taking,  Albur citizens will always have the fear of the unknown future of having a landfill in its domain.  

It can bear the stigma of  being a “garbage site” in a tourism labeled province and bear with the traffic of trucks bringing in garbage from the cluster.

But Albur has been a strategic site-  being at the center of the cluster, near enough the highway and not too close to affect neighboring residential homes. There are also no water wells around to endanger their safety.

But the Albur Landfill cannot be the panacea- the be all and end all- solution to the province’s garbage woes. After all, there are 30-odd towns still to find their own landfill to construct.

Besides, the Albur Landfill addresses just a portion-albeit important portion of the 215.7 tons a day  of waste to be collected from  the clusters. The “residuals”- (those to be accepted to the landfill) is only 18% of the total waste.

Biodegradable wastes account for 48% of the total , 24% recyclable  and 10% special wastes round up the whole. 

But it is still, first, the responsibility of the individual LGUs to educate down to the barangay-level  how citizens must learn  to segregate the bio degradable from the non-biodegradable. Management of the bio degradable and the recyclable are still the  look-out of the LGUs, according to the DENR EMB..

Are the LGUs doing these in coordination with DENR and getting  tips from the DOST (Department of Science and Technology)? For instance, waste matter can be converted to methane gas used for energy source, as starters.

“Biodegradables” are those that will decompose when exposed to oxygen and moisture over a reasonable amount of time.  This may include wastes involving food, kitchen wastes, manure, sewage, agriculture and forestry  and textile.  

Have the LGUs  been slowly covering their existing open dumpsites and properly processing those wastes not accepted at the Albur Landfill? That role  is as important a part of an over all equation for Full Garbage Management, let’s call it FGM.

It would be wrong that because it took ages (10 years) to finally bring the Albur Landfill to official use this week, that such could be the “cure all of garbage woes “. 

It is not.  So much more remains to be done. 

The long ten years that it took to launch this “rocket” of an achievementis instructive. That until and -only when- we put all our shoulders behind the cart  together (and quickly), we will not get anywhere.

All sorts of obstacles- from legal, personal, political, environmental and social were thrown like roadblocks to deter the run of a figurative marathoner in the Albur Landfill Case. Are we really like this as a people? 

The Panglao International Airport, for another,  took decades to takeoff the ground and has been moved to 2019 for completion?

We take this as a final note on this otherwise joyful news on the Albur Landfill -that we should take cue from our ASEAN neighbors-  burning with a lot of action, less talk and politics. Look at Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore so we do not look too far into the international field.

Foot -dragging is a weakness of our type of governance. My ,our neighbors even make fun of our so-called PPP ( Public Private Partnerships) which seems to walk with iron- lead on its feet. 

It is mockingly now called PPP -standing for Power Point Presentation. Because that is how far they will go- and nothing really happens.

It is food for thought while we toast our wine glasses to the people of Albur for bravely taking on this one responsibility at the expense of some of their better goals in life.

And the Regional DENR for its firm stand and the COA (Commission on Audit) for its Solomonic decision of recognizing the MOA as a substitute for a sometimes fuzzy land titling in this country.

In the meantime, let us talk to our barangay leaders how we can individually be a “waste processor” and not leave all the chores to the “garbage collectors”. Shall we?

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