The industrial revolution’s so-called linear economy, where production results in waste due to packaging, produced an ugly impact to the environment.
And population has never been so bad until today when mountains of trash continue to rise in cities and suburbs, marine animals feed on plastics and the Great Pacific garbage patches wander the oceans.
With the adverse consequences of linear economy, people are embracing an alternative — the circular economy, wherein resources are used as long as possible by recovering and regenerating products and materials until the end of their service lives. The beauty of recycling is that it can achieve a sustainable world without disrupting consumers’ way of life and manufacturers’ production cost.
One manifestation of the circular economy is the conversion of waste to energy.
An example is the Dry Anaerobic Digesting Biogas Plant in Naga City, Cebu. This waste-to-energy (WTE) facility produces electricity and heat by fermenting pre-sorted organic waste from garbage collected from the cities of Naga and Carcar and the town of Minglanilla. The Naga City WTE treats up to 130 tons of organic wastes per day and produces 650 kilowatt/hour of electricity to power for the plant’s own-use.
In Pasig City, a refuse-derived fuel facility operated by a solid waste collector and landfill operator with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority segregates 600 tons of daily city trash and select garbage with high thermal value for conversion into pellets that serve as fuel for cement kilns.
More similar facilities are rolling out. One is expected to open in November at the Light Industry and Science Park IV in Malvar, Batangas to start converting 150 tons of garbage per day to generate 6 megawatts (MW).
Another WTE facility is to open at the Cebu Light Industrial Park in Barangay Basak in December to generate initially about 3 MW for use by the plant and for sale to locators in the ecozone. The facility uses a thermal oxidizer process to convert 75 tons of garbage to energy per day.
There is a consortium that will convert the solid waste of Quezon City into 42 megawatts of renewable energy that can power up to 90,000 homes
A private firm and the city government of Puerto Princesa plan to put up a P2.1-billion WTE plant at the Sta. Lourdes Sanitary Landfill where 110 metric tons of municipal waste collected daily would be used as feedstock to generate some 5.5 MW. The facility uses a thermal gasification technology already in use in Japan and in many European countries.
Davao City is also joining the WTE bandwagon. A Japanese WTE technology provider commissioned by the city had prepared a feasibility study and project development plan for the construction of a facility.
In the Philippines, the population generates 35,000 tons of garbage daily, according to an Asian Development Bank report in 2017. Metro Manila’s more than 12 million population contribute more than 8,600 tons of garbage to the pile per day.
With WTE facilities, the country’s garbage not only could be substantially reduced but also significantly controlled and managed as the population grows and the circular economy becomes the norm.
As the saying goes, there is money in trash and garbage has more derivatives like energy. And from less garbage come clean environment and fresh air.