A few weeks ago, I attended a forum hosted by MakeSense and ASpace about waste management in Cebu City. I expected to learn how waste was treated in our city and the various ways to lessen waste in our daily living. What I didn’t expect was to come out of the event feeling frustrated and even a little depressed.

The discussion opened my eyes to the garbage disposal problem in our country. Did you know that the Philippines is the world’s 3rd biggest dumper of plastics in the ocean? But no need to zoom out and look at the whole country. There’s a problem right here in Cebu. We’ve all heard the rumblings about the Inayawan problem, but I never really knew the specifics. The discussion inspired me to do my own research.

Here’s what I learned.

 

January 2012 – The closure of Inayawan landfill

After six years of operating beyond its full capacity the landfill is ready for rehabilitation. Rama and the Cebu City Solid Waste Management Board assured that after the cessation of all forms of dumping at the landfill, preparation has commenced for the application for total closure, and soon, the rehabilitation and conversion of the site.

[…]

The landfill was designed to last only for seven years which means it was supposed to close in 2005.

[…]

They also had to establish a transfer station where the garbage collected by the barangays will be unloaded and transferred to the designated garbage trucks that will transport them. The city leased a lot near the Inayawan landfill for this purpose.

 

June 2016 – Inayawan landfill to reopen

THE Cebu City Government’s sanitary landfill will be reopened on Monday, a move that will help save the City millions from throwing its trash in Consolacion.

[…]

In an interview yesterday, Gelasque said the 15.4-hectare Inayawan landfill can still accommodate more trash there for at least one to two years.

He said he doesn’t know what was the basis of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 for saying that the facility had reached its maximum capacity.

 

October 2016 – DENR secretary orders closure of Inayawan landfill

CALLING it an environmental bombshell, Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez ordered the immediate closure of the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill yesterday.

Lopez said in a phone interview that she recommended the closure of Cebu City’s landfill in Barangay Inayawan after she saw that garbage dumped at the site has reached the sea. She ordered the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue the closure order and compel the City Government to come up with a rehabilitation plan for the landfill and find an alternative dumpsite.

 

December 2016 – Cebu City mayor to dump waste at SRP transfer station despite EMB warning

Osmeña told reporters that even though the Court of Appeals ordered the permanent closure of the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill and the EMB 7 issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO), the City can’t stop collecting garbage.

“It’s coming in every day. Let not say, okay stop muna the garbage, dili na mahimo, oi (that cannot be)!” Osmeña said.

 

January 2017 – Set up transfer station in closed Inayawan landfill

In an effort to reduce Cebu City’s private garbage hauling expenses, Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr. wants to establish a transfer station inside the Inayawan landfill.

“With (a) city-owned transfer station, the Cebu City government shall have lesser budget and/or expenses for garbage collection … There is a sufficient area in Inayawan landfill that can be used for Cebu City’s transfer station,” read Gabuya’s two-page proposed ordinance.

 

June 2017 – Garbage problem ‘over by end of week’

CEBU City’s Department of Public Services (DPS) has assured that Pasajero Motor Corp. (Pamocor) will have all the garbage deposited at the transfer station in Barangay Inayawan hauled to the private landfill in Consolacion by the end of the week.

In the beginning of 2016, we had a transfer station in Inayawan where our garbage was sorted then transferred to a private landfill in Consolacion. After the elections, we went back to dumping our trash in Inayawan due to budgetary concerns. One year later after much controversy, we’re back to where we started, using Inayawan as a transfer station and dumping our garbage in Consolacion. That’s one whole year of useless hullabaloo.

 

In the same time span, instead of applying band-aid measures to the trash problem, Mandaue City decided to attack the root of the problem. Instead of focusing on where the trash is going, Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing decided to change the way people behaved by forcing them to give up plastic.

In July 2016, Mandaue City implemented the Plastic Bag Prohibition Ordinance of 2010, which stated the use and distribution of disposable plastic bags and polystyrene containers such as styrofoam in any establishments in the city, including carenderias and sari-sari stores, is prohibited. They received plenty of criticism from the business sector and implementation came with its own set of challenges; packing wet goods, finding reliable paper bag suppliers, etc. One year later, Mandaue continues to enforce this ordinance. Who knows the effect it had on the number of tons of garbage being collected by the city?

Almost all the articles linked to the Inayawan hullabaloo had quotes and excerpts from our many officials complaining and pointing fingers. Instead of bickering with each other, why can’t we look at real solutions? What can we do with the waste? Are there ways to create them into energy? Or reuse them? What about the waste habits of the people? It’s still common to see people throwing their trash on the road. You can see pedestrians as well as people in nice cars throwing their plastic wrappers on the road as if the city was one big trash can. Can we stop treating our beloved city like that? The news articles consistently report that up to 600 tons of garbage is collected by Cebu City every day. Let me repeat that in case that wasn’t clear. We create 600 tons of garbage every day. That’s the weight of about 300 cars.

 

The worst part of all this? The garbage problem isn’t over. Are you frustrated and depressed yet? Maybe it’s time we did something about it.

 

 

 

Carlo Villarica

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