Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best way: ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’

International environmentalist Neil Tangri of the Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has urged the government not to invest
in so-called high tech but costly waste disposal as it could cause
more serious environment problems.

Tangri said these technologies could yield problems such as toxic
emissions, hazardous solid waste, and increased greenhouse gas

"Hi-tech disposal technologies such as engineered landfills with gas
collection, incinerators, refuse-derived fuel, and staged incinerators
offer no genuine solution to society’s waste problems. It could even
reduce employment in recycling," the US-based environmentalist said.

"Even in engineered landfills attempt to capture methane (a powerful
greenhouse gas), much of which escapes to the atmosphere," he said.

Tangri noted that landfills also produce large quantities of toxic
leachate, which contaminates ground and surface waters.

He said incinerators are also one of the major sources of toxic air
emissions, greenhouse gases, and solid hazardous waste in the form of
incinerator ash.

"Also, by destroying resources (garbage), these incinerators increase
the demand for virgin wood, plastic, paper, and other materials,
causing rising environmental destruction in raw material extraction,"
Tangri said.

He said the use of rebuffed refuse derived fuel (RDF) and other
"incinerators in disguise" are also not safe for the environment.

Tangri advised the government to invest more on "Zero Waste Programs"
and seek cooperative arrangements with waste pickers to implement
garbage separation and treatment of organics.

"Investments in waste reduction, source separation, extended producer
responsibility, informal recycling sector and other initiatives will
lead to a progressive reduction on the volume and toxicity of waste
sent for disposal. Waste pickers are in effect important in the
recycling system in much of the world. If not for their work, the
waste problem would be much worse than it already is. But they can do
much more if they are given investment and opportunities," he noted.

"The best way to manage and handle municipal waste around the world is
the system of ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle,’" he added.

Tangri said the government should also strictly implement R.A. 8749 or
the Clean Air Act that prohibits the "burning of municipal,
bio-medical and hazardous wastes, which process emits toxic and
poisonous fumes."

He said a related law, R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste
Management Act, should also be reinforced to prohibit everyone from
burning waste, which has an adverse effect on the environment.


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