The Philippines, a country situated in the western Pacific Ocean, has a severe waste management problem. In fact, Ocean Conservancy has identified the country as the world’s third-largest source of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans (2015). Even if you visit different cities, countless garbage photos are present, mountains of garbage in landfills, and trash carelessly disposed of in waterways and even in some public beaches.
Waste in the country is growing, especially when typhoons hit that country. Accordingly, tons of garbage is washed back onto our bay and coastal areas. With so much trash found in the country, you would wonder why we do not utilize waste for energy in the Philippines? Under the country’s Clean Air Act, burning or incineration wastes is illegal, and the government has unclear directives on renewable energy projects, and officials will only incur losses financially.
Experts say that waste to energy solutions are possible because other countries have already started it. There are many methods of WTE solutions, such as thermal, mechanical, thermochemical, and biochemical. Other renewable energy resources that aim to turn waste into energy are biogas and biomass energy solutions. This is one way to help solve the problem with the energy crisis in the Philippines.
Organic waste in the country is abundant. Anyone can easily find it in their homes like yard trimmings, paper, wood, and food that produce methane emissions usually end up in landfills every year. However, according to Mr. Lee, a postdoctoral appointee in Argonne’s Energy Systems Division, these wastes can be used as natural gas and liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel. In the paper entitled, “Journal of Cleaner Production,” they conclude that the top benefits of various waste to energy solutions can be seen while avoiding harmful emissions and other air pollutants. In simpler terms, using what would otherwise end up in landfills, energy waste produces energy that typically generates fewer greenhouse gases.
Photo showing a massive amount of wastes in landfills
In 2016, 32 million tons of food waste resources to landfills, or about 70 trillion pounds of waste were estimated by the Department of Energy. This only presents that Philippine energy waste solutions need to be implemented. To give you some other reason, EPA’s statistics show a massive amount of greenhouse gases from landfills that have the same global warming potential as the pollution emitted by 29 million passenger cars every day.
In many countries like United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and Turkey, they already started investing in a WTE plant. The plant can generate gas for electricity production from collected wastes like paper, plastic, textiles, and wood through their technology. They also generate fuel from other waste from municipal solid waste, industrial wastes, and construction waste. Wastes from barns, livestock businesses, and the rice industry can also be used to generate more power.
The future of waste-to-energy
To combat the growing waste issue, especially in the Philippines, waste to energy solutions must be started. The government must think of a wiser way to lessen the amount of garbage that only ends up in landfills, causing harmful emissions in the environment. Why use fossil fuels when we know that there’s a better way to reduce the volume of waste and provide energy at the same time?
Let us hope that the government will take the bold step of investing in and adapting to renewables to solve the energy crisis in the Philippines.