Landfill for Metro Manila trash to close in 5 years; recycling urged

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — Environment officials on Thursday sounded the alarm on thousands of tons of Metro Manila's solid waste causing floods, polluting water, and forcing the closure of a major landfill in five years, if Filipinos fail to practice recycling.

The Rodriguez landfill in the province of Rizal which is now one of two landfills taking in up to 6,000 tons (5.4 million kilograms) daily of Metro Manila's solid waste will close in 2022, said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

He said the Rodriguez landfill was the alternative landfill after the permanent closure in September of the Payatas landfill in Quezon City.

But while the 20-hectare Payatas landfill served the metro as a dumpsite for more than 15 years, the 19-hectare Rodriguez Sanitary Landfill in Rizal was not expected to have a similar life span because of the increasing volume of waste in Metro Manila.

"Expected life niya 2022, ang Rodriguez," Cimatu said in a Malacanang press briefing, referring to the landfill in Rizal.

"Ang total kasi, mga 4,000 to 6,000 tons a day. And you can just imagine 'yung mga dump trucks na dumadaan diyan sa kalsada, these were going to Payatas dati," he said. He estimated 500 trucks delivering trash there daily.

(Translation: The total is 4,000 to 6,000 tons a day...the dump trucks passing on the roads, these used to go to Payatas before.)

"It is really a problem. Buti na lang meron tayong mga alternative in Rodriguez landfill at saka itong Navotas for the Metro Manila residents," he said.

Recycling now

Cimatu said they are studying other alternatives, but stressed the need for Metro Manila to practice recycling, since the landfills are just "stopgap" measures.

He cited Metro Manila residents who did not generate trash and resorted to recycling.

"About 20 to 30 percent ay hindi na nagdadala sa basurahan. They recycle it among themselves, in a subdivision. Maganda po 'yung mga ginagawa," he said.

In September, Cimatu called on Metro Manila's nearly 13 million residents to practice waste segregation and to change habits when it comes to disposing of solid waste.

"Let us segregate waste and stop indiscriminate dumping; it is simple to do and requires just a bit of discipline," he said then.

Wanton dumping of trash is also the main reason for persistent flooding on Metro Manila's streets when rain falls, since the trash clogs sewer and drainage systems.

Floodwaters rose and tons of trash floated into streets when Typhoon Lannie and Tropical Storm Maring hit Luzon, including Metro Manila in September.

"As citizens, we also need to do our part by simply disposing of our trash properly," Cimatu said.

How to segregate waste

Here's how to get started on recycling and segregating waste. 

Recycling-guidelines-DENR-CNNPH.jpg  

A practical and helpful way to dispose of your plastics: Make ecobricks!

Join upcoming training sessions in the Philippines on Ecobricks

Payatas landfill closed in September

Cimatu's predecessor, Gina Lopez, ordered in 2016 the closure of the Payatas landfill due to its proximity to the La Mesa Dam, a source of the metro's drinking water.

"We have to close Payatas landfill because it already exceeded its limit," Cimatu said, adding that this landfill was due for closure as early as 2013.

Before the Payatas landfill was closed in September, a previous trash site also in Payatas that was operating from the 1970s was the scene of a tragic incident in July 2000, where some 300 people, mostly trashpickers, were buried in a landslide of trash.

"Nu'ng umuulan nga noon nang malakas, nagtawag sa'kin 'yung MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) na medyo delikado na mag-landslide uli," Cimatu said.

"Katulad nu'ng nangyari several years back na mga 300 ang namatay, natabunan ng basura," he added.

The other landfill in Navotas which serves the rest of Metro Manila also poses a problem due to the mode of transporting trash.

"The problem in that landfill is that the waste, the garbage is transported by barge in Pier 18. They bring these to the landfill in Navotas,"Cimatu said.

"During the transportation of this garbage, we have noted that there are some accidental things that happen when the garbage fall towards the Manila Bay. And it again increased the pollutants in the Manila Bay. So we were taking actions on these," he added.

Under Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological SolidWaste Management Act of 2000, local government units are primarily responsible for waste segregation and disposal, but all Filipinos are enjoined to do their share in cleaning their surroundings.

Waste-to-energy method studied

The Environment Secretary said they are considering studying waste-to-energy methods of garbage disposal.

"That will be our plan to put up really this kind of waste (to) energy because ito na nga ang trend nila sa mga other countries.

He said he traveled two weeks ago to the towns of Minglanilla, Carcar, and Naga in Cebu to see how this worked.

"Dinadala nila sa machine nila, inilalagay doon for ano, nag-ano 'yun eh, nag — through chemical process, nagkaroon ng methane 'yun eh, nagme-methane, naka-generate ng electricity. After 41 days, 'yung basura na 'yan maging fertilizer na eh," he added.