Greenpeace urges government to rush recycling and composting

Hits Proposals to Revoke Burner Ban in the Clean Air Act

Press release - January 15, 2001
The environmental group Greenpeace today challenged the Philippine government to rush the construction of composting and recycling plants instead of wasting resources in extremely unfavorable waste management dinosaurs like landfills and incinerators, stressing that the former together with public education is the only lasting solution to the current waste crisis facing Metro Manila.

The environmental group Greenpeace today challenged the Philippine government to rush the construction of composting and recycling plants instead of wasting resources in extremely unfavorable waste management dinosaurs like landfills and incinerators, stressing that the former together with public education is the only lasting solution to the current waste crisis facing Metro Manila.

"If the government can afford to fast-track the construction of landfills and dumpsites, why not apply the same determination in pursuit of the right solutions," according to Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Campaign Director for Southeast Asia. The group also branded proposals by certain government officials to revoke the incineration ban in the Clean Air Act as unsound and ecologically regressive.

"Repealing the incineration ban in the Clean Air Act is not the solution to Metro Manila's garbage woes as some government functionaries would like the public to believe. If communities are fighting landfills and dumpsites, they have more reason to oppose incinerators due to the toxic emissions associated even with so-called high-temperature, state of the art waste burners, " said Hernandez " This is literally jumping from the frying pan into the fire," he added.

Waste incineration has been identified worldwide as the primary source of heavy metal and dioxin emissions into the environment. The ultra-toxic dioxin is a confirmed carcinogen and has been linked to birth defects and a host of other health problems. Communities living around and downwind of incinerators in countries like France and Japan have also been documented to have higher rates of cancer, birth defects and infant mortality rates compared to incineration-free areas.

Incinerators do not make waste disappear -they simply transform the problem into a chemical pollution menace which is costlier and more difficult to contain. Incinerating garbage will not eliminate landfills, since the toxic ash generated by the burning process will still have to be dumped somewhere.

The group particularly singled out Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Alberto Romualdez, stressing that "it is unthinkable if not hypocritical for the country's highest health official to promote cancer causing factories, instead of advocating genuine solutions to the waste problem that would protect public health and the environment. Perhaps Secretary Romualdez is just trying to justify his Department's questionable decision to import second-hand, pollutive incinerators from Austria before the Clean Air Act was approved."

"As long as our officials remain obsessed with back-end non-solutions and quick-fixes, we will never break free from the waste crisis which has now become a periodic burden for our citizens. The waste crisis has become symptomatic of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of this administration. The undemocratic decision-making processes that have so far characterized the selection of Semirara as a dumpsite and the re-opening of the San Mateo landfill bear this out. The Filipino people deserve real solutions and not illusions," added Hernandez.

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