There still are many possible solutions to the garbage problem of Baguio and other places like it with the discovery and development of new technology worldwide every day.
As most of us know, our city government has always prioritized short, medium and long-term solutions to Baguio’s solid waste crisis since the problem reared its horribly stinking head several years ago.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said these garbage woes were passed on to his office prompting his administration to formulate the approaches that would prevent the proliferation of garbage here.
He said that when he returned as mayor in 2010, the hauling cost of garbage from the city to the Metro Clark Engineered Sanitary Landfill (MCESL) in Capas, Tarlac was around P3,400 per ton and the city was bringing out over 160 tons daily.
To compel residents to help in solving the garbage problem, the city government mandated households to segregate their garbage, so that the volume that needs to be hauled will be reduced and expenses will be lessened.
The city government also purchased two Environmental Recycling System (ERS) machines that can convert 48 tons of biodegradable waste to compost fertilizer. The machines remain operational, contrary to allegations that the multi-million peso equipment is no longer in use, and I believe that our city government is already selling the treated compost fertilizer.
He said that the active participation of barangay residents in the segregation of garbage at source, recycling, and the use of the ERS machines have been effective.
As a result, the City General Services Office confirmed that with our unrelenting and uncompromising efforts to come up with sustainable solutions to our garbage disposal problem, our hauling cost of residual waste was reduced to P1,432 per ton over the past several years. The amount of garbage has likewise been reduced to an average of 155 tons daily in 2014, and further reduced to 135 tons in 2015, and then to 130 tons in 2016.
But more recently, the proposed construction of the Antamok Integrated Solid Waste Disposal Facility (AISWDF) of Benguet Corporation looks like a more efficient way to solve Baguio’s garbage problem.
It will include a materials recovery facility (MRF), an anaerobic digester, a waste-to-energy plant, ERS machines, an ESL, a health care and medical waste treatment plant, and a special waste treatment plant.
Since that will be nearer Baguio, and the city government will be one of its “owners” or operators, this will definitely be a cheaper option for us in the long run.
Even more recently, a student has been working to turn plastic waste into bricks that will serve as a means of dealing with garbage, and also enable the construction of better homes in rural India.
As we all know, plastic trash is everywhere. In most developed countries it gets collected and is often recycled, but in rural parts of the developing world, it is becoming a major problem.
Unlike other forms of garbage that can eventually decompose, plastic remains and litters many places where livestock and wild animals accidentally eat it. And since they have no solution for it, residents there are forced to throw it out or burn it, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
Those were the problems that Lise Fuglsang Vestergaard, a young design and engineering student from Denmark, encountered during a three month stay in the village of Joygopalpur in West Bengal, India.
Finding out that soft plastic has become a huge and growing problem in places like Joygopalpur, she came up with an unusual idea of transforming plastic bags and other packaging materials into building blocks that the villagers could use to build their homes.
But it wasn’t just about making bricks, the student also wanted to design a process that people living in rural areas would actually use.
In the first stage, the trashed plastic bags are collected and washed, if needed. Then they are cut with scissors or knives to make smaller pieces. After that, the plastic particles are stuffed in a mold and placed into a sun grill, which heats the plastic using solar power. After about one hour on the grill, the plastic melts and then is cooled down, before being removed from the mold to reveal a plastic brick.
But the bricks aren’t simple blocks. They have two holes in them to make it possible to stack and connect them with poles or bars to create stable walls without the need for cement or other building materials.
These plastic walls act as a foundation, similar to the traditional mud bricks used in villages in India, and can be covered with a layer of clay just like traditional houses. This covering protects the plastic from the sun. And while mud bricks can’t withstand monsoon rains and houses are frequently washed away, houses with plastic frames are more durable. She is still refining the process, but the young engineer said that she is also working with local manufacturers there in India to develop the sun grill as well.
She said that they have made some smaller bricks in the sun grill, but the machine is still being improved. The idea is to make it so simple and low tech that is can be used in the villages.
Come to think of it, these recycled plastic brick are definitely a lot more durable and even unbreakable when compared to the commercial concrete hollow blocks being sold everywhere in our country.
And since they’re recycled from non-biodegradable plastics, which make up the bulk of our city’s total garbage output, they would unquestionably be a lot cheaper or maybe even almost free.
Can we not adapt that same technology here in Baguio and in the rest of our country? Wouldn’t that be a truly win-win situation?