ADB urges LGUs to open waste mngm’t to private sector

(The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is urging city governments to open up the management of municipal solid waste to private sector participation to overcome the immense investment costs and management burden of disposal.

Municipal waste disposal continues to be a major problem for Metro Manila, a metropolis of 12 million people. About 35,000 tons of municipal solid waste are generated by the country daily, 6,600 tons of which are in Metro Manila alone. A large portion of the refuse is burned in open air, contributing to air pollution.

In an entry on the Asian Development Blog, ADB urban development officer Aldrin Plaza identified three major obstacles to managing collection and disposal of municipal waste. These are: establishment of proper municipal solid waste disposal facilities, investment cost for disposal technology and lack of efficiency in management.

“The private sector does have the technical competence and available solutions to solve the problem. Perhaps it’s time for private companies – especially energy and recycling businesses – to step in,” said Plaza.

An effort to improve the management of municipal waste was made through the 2000 Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. The law aims to systematically organize and manage the collection and disposal of municipal solid waste in the country through segregation at source and the establishment of intermediate facilities such as materials recovery facilities, which ideally should be established at the barangay level.

It also provides specific deadlines for closing unsanitary open dumpsites, and supports the use of properly engineered sanitary landfills as the only sustainable means of final garbage disposal.

“However, many of the law’s goals have yet to be achieved,” said Plaza, noting cities are still dumping waste on open dumpsites that should have been closed.

In 2010, when all open dumpsites should already have been closed as mandated by the law, 790 were still operating, he said.

Plaza attributes the failure to efficiently manage municipal waste primarily to the “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) attitude prevalent among cities. This essentially means most cities are averse to the idea of having dumpsites within their area, preferring to export waste to other areas.

“It’s like saying, yes we need dumpsites, but please put them somewhere else,” he said.

Cities and municipalities that accept to take garbage in their dumpsites do not provide effective solutions either as they have not been able to present a good model for solid waste management,” said Plaza.

Local government units are also averse to garbage incineration and other forms of technologies to reduce the pile of garbage mostly because of the ban under the law and the steep cost of establishing a comprehensive municipal solid waste management system.

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