Bulacan execs scramble to avert garbage crisis ahead of landfill closure

Bulacan execs scramble to avert garbage crisis ahead of landfill closure

By: - Correspondent / @inquirerdotnet
/ 05:02 AM June 07, 2024

CITY OF MALOLOS — Officials in Bulacan province are working on backup and contingency plans to avert a potential waste collection and disposal crisis following the anticipated closure in October of the landfill being operated by the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. (MCWMC) in Capas, Tarlac.

At least 12 Bulacan towns, with over 1.8 million residents and 180 hospitals and health-care facilities, are expected to be affected by the landfill’s closure, local data showed.

In an interview on Wednesday, San Ildefonso Mayor Fernando Galvez Jr. said they started seeking alternative solutions to avoid waste disposal problems.

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“Garbage disposal is a major concern for local government units. We must find an alternative solution; we cannot allow our waste to be left uncollected in the streets because the designated facility is ceasing operations,” he said.

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Pandi Mayor Enrico Roque said that they have yet to receive a formal communication from MCWMC about the closure.

He said Pandi’s contract with the garbage firm would run until December 2024, but he assured residents that the local government was readying a backup plan.

Another facility

Pulilan Mayor Maria Rosario Ochoa-Montejo said the municipal environment and natural resources office was exploring options with another landfill in Floridablanca town in nearby Pampanga province.

Bocaue Mayor Eduardo Villanueva Jr. said their local government had prepared a contingency plan but did not provide details.

Other Bulacan local governments sending their trash to the Capas landfill are Calumpit, Doña Remedios Trinidad, Marilao, Paombong, Plaridel, San Miguel, San Rafael, and Sta. Maria.

In a previous statement, MCWMC said it would end on Oct. 5 its 25-year contract with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Clark Development Corp. (CDC) to operate the modern sanitary landfill that caters to domestic and hospital waste from more than 100 local governments in central and northern Luzon.

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The landfill operates in a 100-hectare property at Barangay Cut-Cut II in Capas, within the New Clark City. It handles 200,000 tons of waste annually from Bulacan alone.

According to Christopher Tang, head of Safeways Inc., a Tarlac-based company handling hospital and medical waste, a significant portion of their waste haul comes from 180 private hospitals and health-care facilities in Bulacan.

Tang expressed concern that the closure of MCWMC would displace hospital waste treatment companies, preventing them from collecting, treating, and disposing of hospital waste properly.

“What will happen to Bulacan’s hospital and [medical] waste if there is no facility for us to bring them to?” he asked.

MCWMC is the only sanitary landfill approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in Central Luzon that accepts treated hospital waste.

Appeal

According to Victoria Gaetos, MCWMC executive vice president, they have been appealing for a contract extension since 2014.

“A sudden closure would trigger an overnight garbage crisis affecting 15 million people across Central Luzon, Pangasinan, and the Cordillera region,” Gaetos said in a separate statement.

She noted that the Capas landfill is the only waste disposal facility in Central Luzon that is capable of handling all regional waste, particularly treated hazardous and hospital waste.

Since beginning operations in 2003, the Capas landfill has consistently met or exceeded regulations under Republic Act No. 8003, or the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000, providing waste management services on par with those in Europe and other developed countries.

“Our track record of 25 years without major incidents or violations speaks to our commitment to safety and regulatory compliance,” Gaetos added.

The BCDA said it would assist local government units, government agencies, and locators in exploring alternative solutions for waste disposal to ensure uninterrupted solid waste management services.

Earlier, it said a sanitary landfill no longer aligns with the vision of transforming New Clark City into a premier investment and tourism destination.

Added expense

Two facilities in Pampanga have the capacity to handle the waste previously managed by MCWMC, the DENR-EMB in Central Luzon said.

These facilities have a combined capacity of 3,500 metric tons (MT) of domestic waste per day, expandable to 6,000 MT.

In Baguio City, the local government is assessing how much it would spend when it ships out its daily waste to landfills in either Bulacan or Pampanga, once the Tarlac landfill is closed.

“We already spend P250 million annually to haul out garbage to [Sitio Kalangitan in] Capas, so we will have to increase our budget when we go farther than Tarlac,” city administrator Bonifacio dela Peña told the Inquirer on Thursday.

Baguio has been spending a significant amount on waste management since its only dump was closed in 2008 and finally decommissioned in 2011.

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The city’s daily waste grew from 160 tons in the mid-2000s to 400 tons in 2017 and again to 550 tons early this year due to migration, population growth, and increased tourism and business traffic, according to city records. —WITH A REPORT FROM VINCENT CABREZA 

TAGS: Bulacan, Garbage, Landfill, Waste

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