House panel pushes for effective management of electronic, biomedical waste

Bettina Magsaysay, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2020 11:29 PM

Piles of garbage remain outside a landfill in Barangay San Isidro in Rodriguez, Rizal. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The House Committee on Ecology is pushing for effective management of hazardous and radioactive waste, which include electronic and biomedical waste.

"Biomedical waste carries the biggest chunk of the most generated waste," said Zamboanga del Norte 2nd District Rep. Glona Labadlabad, who chairs the House panel.

The committee hopes to consolidate 11 bills that address the problems. Among them is House Bill 97 or "Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes Management Act, which seeks to implement a comprehensive hazardous and radioactive waste management program that focuses on pollution prevention.

"In the time of COVID-19, we have to ensure that health care waste are properly managed because if not, these waste might pose more threat to the public health and the environment," said Bukidnon 1st District Rep. Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba, who authored House Bill 97.

Meanwhile, Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Allan Benedict Reyes believes the use of incinerators would help in waste management.

"We do not have a good waste segregation system being implemented in the Philippines. Thus this bill seeks to address the problem by lifting the ban on the use of incineration as a mode of waste disposal," he said.

Dr. Asuncion Raymundo of the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines also supports lifting the ban on incineration.

"There are incinerators, which will allow the scrubbing or the filtering gases that will be released to the environment so that they will be freed from toxic components. That will be a good move to solve the accumulating medical waste that is now a problem amidst this pandemic," he said.

However, Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, said the use of incinerators coud be an overkill and hoped the committee consider other alternatives.

"If you burn 5 tons of waste, you introduce about 3 tons of ash and where do you put these ash? They are toxic ash. And also the facilities of these incinerators are very, very expensive," she said.

The irresponsible disposal of electronic waste has also become a concern for Muntinlupa City Lone District Rep. Rufino Biazon.

In his proposed legislation, House Bill 4233 seeks to prohibit indiscriminate disposal of electronic waste.

For local government units to properly dispose waste, Commissioner Crispian Lao, vice chair of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, said funding mechanisms should be taken into consideration.

"That is one of the challenges on the ground that we have seen because it costs money for local government units to properly have the hazardous waste or special waste be treated," he said.

The same sentiment was shared by Alvin Asis of the League of Cities of the Philippines and Matthew Falcotelo of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

Both are asking for assistance from the national government due to limited resources, technical capacities and manpower.