Garbage: soon to be an enormous problem PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 March 2018 11:59

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

Strategically situated in the center of Region 9 and other big municipalities and cities in Mindanao, Zamboanga City’s population has increased tremendously within a short period of time. It has become to be the center of trade and commerce and education for Region 9. Business is bustling, propelled by the so-called underground economy. It is a city that many economists and bankers acknowledge as the city which has the biggest circulation of money in the country.

Thus, one should not anymore wonder why thousands of people are coming and are establishing their new place of abode in this city. Its population, believed lately to be over a million, has contributed tons of garbage and other waste materials, which, if not properly addressed and disposed, would become a monumental problem of the city.

Every nook and corner of the city, piles of garbage abound and despite the efforts to collect them by our local waste disposal officers (I prefer to call them as such than call them “basurero”), residents and establishments never stop throwing and dumping them endlessly not in their designated areas for pick-up.

The total daily collected garbage is believed to be in tons and soon will be too much for our landfill to accept. Our landfill in Lumbangan will soon be totally filled up and the search for another ideal and suitable place to dump our city’s garbage will be a big problem.

Recall that when the Salaan dumpsite was chosen, many expressed their oppositions and protests. They claim that leachate or “garbage juice” was seeping and polluting drinking wells and rivers near it thereby polluting their safe drinking waters. But the danger is that this seeping polluted water could reach the sea thereby contaminating marine environment as well. Moreover, the area was not enough to be the dumping site as it was too small. The city government transferred the dumpsite to its present location in Lumbangan.

But its transfer will not solve the growing need to find another place when it will soon be filled up. Thus the need to find a better and healthy waste disposal system must be initiated and implemented.

Waste segregation, which is now being done by the wage disposal officers themselves and the numerous garbage collectors in the area will lessen the volume of garbage collected and disposed. This could lower the volume of garbage by almost one-half as the segregated garbage is being recycled into a new product. But this could not be a permanent and advantageous solution to the problem.

Many say that the easiest way to solve the garbage problem is to burn it. Several years ago, under the administration of Mayor Caling Lobregat, our city government purchased a garbage incinerator which remained unused up to these days. This could have done the job but the use of incinerators was banned under the Clean Air Act legislated by Congress in 1999. But now it is being reviewed and Congress is in the process of lifting this ban. I don’t know the type and model of this incinerator because nowadays the Japanese and Korean makers are now enticing and convincing local government officials that incineration is the solution to garbage problem. They are now selling the modern version or the so-called waste-to-energy incinerators that burns garbage to generate energy. They say that it is clean and safe.

This type of incinerator is expensive and the caveat is to choose one that must live up to environmental and health standards. The incinerator purchased by our city several years ago is now outmoded and hazardous to environment and health of residents. The modern one has a catalytic reactor that captures the highly toxic chemical compound called dioxin, a chemical produced when plastics are burned. Burning the garbage will likewise produce electricity that we badly needed due to the scarcity of electric power that Zamcelco could only purchase for distribution to the residents of the city.

The city should study and be fully aware of this latest development on garbage disposal. The health, safety, and environment of its denizens must, at all times, be protected.