Worsening garbage problem

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

The World Bank last year released a report on its assessment of the solid waste management plans as well as the collection, recycling and disposal conditions of the 17 local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila to determine the gaps and barriers hindering the effective implementation of RA 9003, in particular the recovery and recycling of plastic wastes.

Based on data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), Metro Manila generated as much as 9,500 tons per day (tpd) of waste in 2020 and is projected to rise to 10,400 tpd in 2025.

Waste collection in Metro Manila, the study revealed, is performed through the combined efforts of the barangays and LGUs. As required by RA 9003, collection of segregated waste is performed by the barangays, delivering waste to the materials recovery facilities (MRF)  for segregation of recyclables and composting of biodegradables. Meanwhile, LGUs are tasked with the collection of residual waste. However, with the limited resources of barangays and the small number of MRFs, this condition has not been attained in the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila.

The study noted that in practice, the bulk of waste collection in the metropolis is performed by the LGUs together with their contracted private haulers due to the limited resources of the barangays. Of the 17 LGUs, 15 utilized the services of private haulers.

Based on data provided by the Metro Manila Development Authority, the WB study said that 33,000 cubic meters of waste is collected daily from all Metro Manila LGUs. Using the average density of 174 kg/cubic meter, it pointed out that this translates to only about 5,742 tpd or about 60 percent of the projected 9,498 tpd for 2020 and that this collection rate is low compared to Jakarta and Bangkok, which have waste collection rates of 74 percent in 2017 and 81 percent in 2018, respectively.

The WB study observed that non-collection of garbage is expected in areas that are not covered by the barangay collection and not reached by LGU collection trucks, especially in depressed or slum areas where the road networks are narrow. This in turn results in the presence of litter in streets, vacant lots, and waterways during flood events.

The same study pointed out that coordination between LGUs and the barangays is deficient, if not absent, on the aspects of monitoring of collection and waste diversion through MRFs and MRS and this, it said, is manifested by the absence of a unit within the LGUs to monitor barangay MRF and MRS operations.

WB classified the LGUs into four tiers in terms of overall solid waste management. Those belonging to Tier 1 or those with high ratings in the implementation of plastic waste management projects, passage of necessary plastic waste ordinances and diversion facilities, and moderate rating in MRS are Muntinlupa, Paranaque and Pasig.

Those in Tier 2 or those who rank a close second in overall SWM management are Manila, Quezon City, Pasay City, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong and Marikina. Meanwhile, Tier 3 LGUs or those which rank significantly lower compared to Tier 2 in terms of overall SWM management are Navotas, Pateros, Valenzuela, Caloocan and Taguig.

The lone LGU under Tier 4, ranking lowest in overall solid waste management, is the city of San Juan.

Meanwhile, waste disposal in Metro Manila is managed by the MMDA. There are three privately owned facilities accepting waste from the 17 LGUs and these are the Rizal Provincial Sanitary Landfill, New San Mateo Sanitary Landfill and Navotas Sanitary Landfill.

The NSWMC recently announced that Metro Manila was the most waste generating region nationwide, saying that if all the garbage in the Philippines were added up, 25 percent would come from Metro Manila residents.

However, based on a report by the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO), only 85 percent of waste in Metro Manila is collected and taken to sanitary landfills. About 15 percent of the estimated 9,212.92 tons of garbage generated by Metro Manila residents end up in canals, estuaries, rivers and, ultimately, into Manila Bay.

Two years ago, the MMDA began desilting Parañaque River and had to remove a garbage island that has formed in the middle of it as part of its flood control measures. Agency officials said it will take about three to four months to fully get rid of the pile of garbage, which is estimated to be 26,000 cubic meters in volume.

If the World Bank study were to be used as a gauge, the Paranaque LGU belonged to Tier 1 and therefore has an effective SWM in place. However, residents have began to think that this will no longer be true soon especially with former mayor Edwin Olivarez no longer leading the city.

Residents observed that uncollected trash have piled up in several city streets and alleys. And this they said may be due to the fact that the Parañaque LGU changed its contracted private garbage hauler.

Just last Dec. 27, Edwin’s brother Eric, who now sits as mayor, signed a P414.8 million contract with a new hauler, Metrowaste Solid Waste Management Corp.  The mayor terminated the contract with Leonel Waste Management Corp., which had been collecting trash in the city for nine years and without any complaint from the residents and barangay officials.

The allegedly hasty deal entered into by the younger Olivarez with Metrowaste and the numerous complaints from concerned residents prompted the City Council to conduct a public hearing last Jan. 24.

Councilor Christopher Aguilar was reported as saying that tons of garbage will continue piling up in the city’s main roads because the daily garbage collection and disposal of Metrowaste is insufficient, ineffective and unsatisfactory, even as he quoted Edgardo Palmiano, MMDA action officer in Parañaque, as saying that the average trips made by Metrowaste was only 43 per day compared to Leonel’s 109 trips.

Palmiano also confirmed that the daily average garbage collection of Leonel last year was 2,581 cubic meters while Metrowaste’s garbage collection is only 1,328 cubic meters.

For whole of last year, the numbers of trips made by Leonel was 39, 731. Metrowaste, meanwhile made only 765 trips from Jan. 1 to 18 this year.

According to Palmiano, Metrowaste’s daily average volume of solid waste disposed at the MMDA-designate sanitary landfills is only 1,512.14 metric tons from Jan. 1 to 18, while Leonel’s daily average disposal is 2,581.40 daily during the comparable period last year.

During the public hearing, several residents also revealed that Metrowaste’s garbage haulers were asking money every time they collect the trash.

Barangay officials, meanwhile revealed  that the garbage collectors and staff of Metrowaste were not in proper uniform nor were they wearing any personal protective equipment when tcollecting the trash, violating the requirements in the contract with the LGU.

In the hearing, Aguilar expressed concern that the uncollected garbage problem in the city would remain especially since Metrowaste only has 24 trucks, consisting of 20 small trucks with compactor and only four large trucks which are not enough to meet the city’s requirement.

It was revealed that Leonel has 54 compactors of which 40 are medium sized and 14 large size trucks with compactor, according to the Aguilar, who represents the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in the council.

While garbage collection is just one aspect of the entire solid waste management ecosystem, an effective and efficient collection system both by the barangays through their MRFs and the LGUs through their private hauling contractors is crucial to helping solve this ever present and worsening solid waste disposal problem.

These private contractors should not only be fully equipped and manned by sufficient trucks and enough personnel but these contractors should also take their very expensive and lucrative contracts seriously and with a really good understanding of their role in solving not only the garbage problem but also other related problems such as pollution, flooding, health concerns of residents, to name a few.

These contractors should also inculcate in the minds of their personnel, the ones bringing the trash from the households to the trucks, the need to ensure that only segregated garbage is collected. Otherwise, more unsegregated solid waste will have to be hauled and brought to the landfills.



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