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More quality sanitary landfills needed amid growing waste problem

Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. (MCWM) is pushing for the establishment of more engineered sanitary landfills in the Philippines amid worsening environmental issues.

In the Waste Management Forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the operator of the country’s first engineered sanitary landfill noted how open and uncontrolled dumping remains prevalent across the archipelago.

“The number of sanitary landfills in the country remains small despite the passage of Republic Act No. 9003, which requires for the closure of open and uncontrolled dumpsites, about 17 years ago,” MCWM President and CEO Rufo B. Colayco said.

Citing data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, Mr. Colayco noted that 403 open and 108 uncontrolled dumpsites continued to operate while less than 15% of local government units had access to 118 sanitary landfills in 2016.

“We need more sanitary landfills across the country, and ensure they conform to the highest standards and actually serve their purposes,” Colayco said.

At the minimum, RA 9003 requires sanitary landfills to have liners; a leachate collection and treatment system; a gas control recovery system; groundwater monitoring well system; covers; closure procedure and post-closure procedure.

The environmental protection features aim to specifically protect the air, soil and groundwater from contamination by leachate and other waste-related emissions.

“We hope to set the bar high for waste management in the Philippines through our world-class engineered sanitary landfill within the Clark Freeport Zone,” Colayco said.

MCWM operates the Clark Integrated Waste Management Facility located within the Clark Freeport Zone. It is the first engineered sanitary landfill in the Philippines and one of the first to receive ISO certification in Asia.

Partly owned by German conglomerates BN Ingenieure GmbH and Heers & Brockstedt Umwelttechnik GmBH, the facility is patterned after the engineered sanitary landfills of Germany, a world leader in waste management.

It has multiple layers of liners, including a 2.5-millimeter high-density polyethylene material that exceeds Philippine standards. It also includes a leachate collection and treatment system; gas recovery system; materials recovery facility; and environmental buffer.

“But we can only build as many sanitary landfills,” Colayco noted. “As our population continues to grow and our economy expands further, we need to find ways to reduce the increasing volume of our waste.”

Colayco cited the experience of Germany and other European countries, where waste is turned into an energy source, among others.

“Let us take advantage of the existing waste management solutions that help us take a significant step forward to our ultimate goal: to preserve our environment for the future generations and ourselves,” Colayco said.