Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment (PPSE) ended Zero Waste Month last January 31 through a forum entitled “Walang Plastikan”. The event tackled the plastic pollution, implications of “waste-to-energy” (WtE) facilities (particularly plastic-to-fuel), and the importance of collective movement to fight against false solutions to the ongoing plastic crisis.
Guest Speaker Miko Aliño, Project Coordinator for Corporate Accountability under Break Free From Plastic Movement (BFFP), talked about the plastic crisis and the petrochemical/plastic industry and how they peddle false solutions such as WtE facilities, including the USD 15 million waste-to-worth (W2W) project in Dagupan City.
WtEs are expensive to build and have not been proven to actually reduce plastic waste. It does not address the root of the problem—the unbridled production of plastics resulting to crisis-level pollution. These facilities compete with existing plastic recycling industries and hinder the promotion of zero waste systems.
Thermal conversion technologies (incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis) that burn plastics emit highly toxic and cancer-causing dioxins and other pollutants. Worst still, WtEs produce greenhouse gases (GHGs)—a ton of plastic waste chemically recycled through pyrolysis produces almost a ton of GHGs. Construction of these facilities will have adverse effects on the environment and the health of direct impact communities.
Currently, the W2W project in Dagupan City already had a groundbreaking ceremony in 2018 and the newly elected mayor is already planning for its construction. The construction of three (3) other proposed facilities in Urdaneta City, Umingan, and San Fabian have been gathering dust. The GAREC project in Laoac has been rescinded due to opposition from residents and the new anti-WtE administration. There has been mounting opposition to WtE projects across the country due to their environmental and heath impacts as well as legal constraints from environmental laws such as Clean Air Act (RA 8749) and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003).
The forum also talked about the accountability of fossil fuel and plastic industries, and the implementation of the RA 9003, implementation of zero waste programs, and the use of alternative packaging to curb down and address the worsening plastic crisis.
Eco Dangla, Convenor of PPSE, highlighted the importance of uniting the sectors and communities, drawing from the experience of the network in working with different groups in opposing environmentally destructive projects such as the Sual Coal Power Plant II, Laoac WtE, and black sand mining, and in facing the newly proposed nuclear plants in Labrador and the WtE project in Dagupan City. He underscored the role of frontline communities and the youth in generating a movement for the environment and genuine societal change.
As environmental problems worsen, it is imperative to push for zero waste programs and ecological alternatives, and to address the roots not only of the plastic crisis but also the climate and the environmental crisis. Rise for climate justice! Rise for people and planet over profit!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article is that of the author only and do not necessarily represent the views of their organization nor of the CPDG.