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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued guidelines on the establishment and operation of waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities for the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the country.

Speaking at a forum in Taguig City on Thursday, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the guidelines are embodied in DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2019-21 that he signed last November 26.

“With these guidelines, we hope that we will be able to demonstrate in a pilot basis one solution to the waste problem using WTE method without violating Republic Act (RA) 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999,” Cimatu said during the forum organized by Stratbase Group.

WTE refers to the energy recovered from waste, usually the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity or fuel through a variety of processes.

According to Cimatu, the DAO provides guidelines on environmentally-sound evaluation, establishment, operation and decommissioning or closure of WTE technologies for MSW management.

MSW is defined in the order as waste produced from activities within local government units, which include a combination of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial trash and street litters.

The DENR is looking at WTE as a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to the traditional sanitary landfill, which is the waste disposal method allowed under RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Cimatu said the country’s garbage woes are only getting worse, especially in Metro Manila, which generates about 56,000 cubic meters of trash per day.

“The problem on solid waste is one of the primary issues that we must address immediately,” the DENR chief pointed out.

Cimatu assured that the WTE guidelines “adhere to the policy of the government to ensure the protection of public health and environment.”

The DAO, he said, follows set guidelines and targets for solid waste avoidance and volume reduction through source reduction and waste minimization measures in accordance with ecologically sustainable development practices.

He added that the guidelines comply with Presidential Decree 1586 (Establishing an Environmental Impact Assessment System); emission standards as contained in RA 8749 (Clean Air Act); effluent standards as contained in RA 9275 (Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004); and regulation on the use and disposal of hazardous substances and waste as stipulated in RA 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act of 1990).

The Order shall take effect 15 days after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation and registration with the Office of the National Administrative Register at the University of the Philippines Law Center.###