The proposed waste summit
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 16, 2019 - 12:00am

We welcome the plan of Vice Mayor Mike Rama to have a waste summit. The summit does not need to have a big budget. We hope Vice Mayor Mike keeps the summit simple, ensure productive summit results, without wasting millions in public funds. How? Invite partners and volunteers to share resources and time for the summit. After all, the waste summit is intended to come up with clear, doable suggestions and action plans for better, hopefully, inexpensive yet sustainable waste management options for all, the city, our people and our environment.

We expect the proponents of the present waste management system to be at the summit. Until now, the prevailing mindset about waste management is to collect and throw waste into landfills. Talks are rife that Cebu City and Cebu Province are moving in the direction of having WTE (waste to energy) facilities in identified areas.

The summit should invite those who think that the solution is to collect the waste in huge volumes and convert these into energy, since there will be more waste through the years due to population increase. We hope they will present the pros and cons of WTE. We hope the city and province will also insist on data showing 1.) Where WTE facilities have been installed in the country or in other countries, 2.) Whether or not these WTE facilities are generating substantial energy, 3.) Whether or not the WTE facilities are sustainable, and, 4.) The costs of installing and maintaining WTE facilities and other requirements and expenses through the years.

There is the prevailing government view that this present waste management framework (waste collection, disposal and possibly, conversion into energy) is an effective, quicker, and more efficient solution to the waste problem.

The waste summit can be an occasion to verify, with facts and data, whether this prevailing waste management system is truly effective, environment-friendly, cost-effective, and genuinely beneficial for the people and our planet.

We hope that the vice mayor will request government offices to prepare solid and updated information to confirm that the present waste management system is effective and therefore should be continued.

We propose Vice Mayor Rama require the following city and barangay data to be presented and included in the Waste Summit: 1.) Waste volume for the city as well as for each barangay through several years; 2.) Types and percentage of waste collected; 3.) System of collection and disposal, including information about all players involved in the collection and disposal of waste, such as hired collectors, accredited waste collectors, and disposal companies or units, and others; 4.) Resources used, route and schedules for waste collection and disposal; 5.) Disposal areas (info about landfills, dumpsites, area, carrying capacity etc.), and 6.) Costs entailed for this type of waste management system.

Hopefully, these data can show the merits and demerits of the present collection and disposal system. The data can also confirm whether the millions in public funds allotted for this waste management system is cost-effective, has reduced waste volume and its hazards, is eco-friendly, and beneficial for people.

We propose the waste summit will invite advocates of alternative waste management framework and options who focus on a participative, coordinated, integrated view and system of solving the waste problem through inexpensive, sustainable, eco-friendly, people-centered initiatives. We expect these advocates to bring data and information about the costs and benefits as well pros and cons of their alternative options.

The waste summit is timely. We look forward to informed decisions and action plans based on an open sharing and discussion of various views, data, and practices related to waste management.

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