Segregation may ease Baguio garbage crisis
BAGUIO City—The city government has started moving tons of garbage from a decommissioned dump in Barangay (village) Irisan here to prevent another deadly trash slide when strong monsoon rains return.
It has also discussed plans to strictly implement a “no waste segregation, no collection” policy, as national attention continues to focus on the city’s solid waste management in the light of the August 27 avalanche of garbage that killed five people.
In the past, this policy had led to serious health problems because the local solid waste managers only took nonbiodegradable wastes and violators left organic trash rotting in the streets.
This time, the city government said it will start sending two sets of garbage trucks to villages to separately collect biodegradable and nonbiodegradable wastes that households segregate, said Cordelia Lacsamana, city environment officer.
This plan was set for execution this month but was delayed because of the trash slide, according to documents obtained by the Inquirer.
But public attention has been diverted lately to plastic wastes.
Leo Bernardez, the city engineer, said that bundled plastic wastes left uncollected at the top of the Irisan dump could have added more weight that caused the facility to give way and collapse on August 27.
Bernardez said the containment wall around the terraced and stone-walled dump burst when rains were unleashed by Typhoon “Mina.” The bundled plastic wastes were stored for the city’s Japan-based supplier of enzyme-composting units that implemented an Environmental Recycling System (ERS).
Mayor Mauricio Domogan bought two ERS units for P128 million and installed them at the Irisan dump in December 2010 to process organic wastes into commercial fertilizer. Part of the deal required the ERS supplier, Protech Machineries Corp., to haul out plastic wastes at no cost to the government.
Luis Arqueza Lu Jr., Protech vice president, said the firm had been hauling out the plastic wastes to its materials recycling facility in Rosales, Pangasinan, since April.
“My Japanese partners asked for a report regarding the August 27 incident. My report states that the plastic wastes we haul to Rosales would not have been heavy enough to topple the Irisan dump. We have already hauled 500 tons of plastic wastes,” he said.
Protech is developing a plastics recycling center there that would manufacture pelletized plastics from plastic wastes thrown away by Baguio for export to China, Lu said.
The deal grants Protech fresh supplies of recyclable plastics from the city for free in the next 10 years, according to documents.
Lu said the firm is securing permits and environmental clearances. It is also awaiting the balance of payments due from Baguio to buy Protech’s pelletizers, he said.
The bulk of the city’s trash is plastic wastes, and the volume it generates requires four units of pelletizers, Lu said.
The hauling stopped recently when Protech was forced to return the unsegregated wastes to Baguio, after the Rosales neighborhood complained about the smell of trash being brought there, he said.—Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon