RA 9003, two decades after

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METRO Manila’s rapid development is good, especially for adjoining provinces as it spills economic activities which could no longer be accommodated in the densely populated National Capital Region.

Aside from the economic activities, Metro Manila also gets to spill 12,500 tons of garbage per day being dumped somewhere else –in Rizal Province’s San Mateo and Montalban towns.

With such an astonishing volume of solid waste, the Metropolis has become one of the most severe waste-ridden cities of the world.

Based on Metro Manila Development Authority’s database, Quezon City contributes the biggest chunk of Metro Manila’s garbage generated on a daily basis. QC alone accounts for 3,600 tons a day representing 29 percent of Metro Manila’s daily solid waste output, followed by Manila, and Caloocan.

The tremendous volume of garbage coming from Metro Manila goes to a landfill in San Mateo and Montalban, in  mixed form, meaning the wastes are not even segregated despite the enactment of Republic Act 9003 [Ecological Solid Waste Management Act] 21 years ago.

While existing laws mandate that non-organic waste like metals and plastics be segregated and channeled to the law-mandated materials recovery and recycling facilities, the truth is that the government does not have the capability to process the bulk of Metro Manila’s non-organic waste.

In the absence of government-operated MRFs, the bulk of metals and plastics go to junk shops, which in turn sells them to factories manufacturing and remanufacturing plastics, metals and other non-biodegradable wastes.

But not all non-biodegradable garbage could be sold to the junk shops, which makes me think that those are simply dumped in open trash pits and in our waterways.

There are three landfills that currently absorb Metro Manila’s waste — 40-hectare landfill in Navotas, the 19-hectare landfill in San Mateo, and the recently expanded 70+-hectare landfill in Rodriguez, Rizal.

Of these three trash dumps, Navotas is nearing saturation point, which leaves Rizal Province as the only destination of Metro Manila garbage.

The practice of dumping in landfills affects our air quality as it produces massive amounts of methane gas, a byproduct of decomposing waste. It also affects our water quality as toxic bacteria and chemicals seep into our water table.

Soon enough, these landfills would destroy our environment, kill the living organisms in the area where landfills are situated and make people sick — and where not even talking about the bio-hazardous wastes.

Another thing, RA 9003 is not about the landfill. It is about proper handling of garbage.

It is high time the people in the government – both national and local, should set aside politics and come up with sustainable solutions. There is a long list of technologies that are capable of solving the decades-old garbage problem but the people in the government, especially those in key positions, are simply ignoring it because of politics and SOPs, a practice compelling investors to shell out an equitable amount for government officials to keep for themselves.

While solutions to Metro Manila’s garbage concerns are knocking on the doors, I find it quite logical to think that only those who are willing to shell out grease money have been given access to transact and provide solutions [at cost] to problems which the government can’t even take care of.

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