July 18, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana   

The city government is looking for other areas to dispose of its wastes due to the reported impending closure of the garbage transfer facility in Tarlac where Baguio has been hauling out its residual wastes.

For this and in preparation for the rain season and the expected tourist influx in December, the General Services Office would be asking Mayor Benjamin Magalong and the city’s Local Finance Committee for an additional P50 million on top of the department’s operating budget this year.

The GSO has been appropriated P170M for 2024.

“We are spending so much in terms of garbage dispo-sal, a price for being a highly urbanized city. And with the reported closure of Metro Clark waste facility in October, we are looking for some areas to dispose our garbage and it would mean a higher cost because of the longer distance,” GSO Head Eugene Buyucan said on June 26.

He said the mayor is studying the options based on the negotiations the city started a month ago in preparation for the Metro Clark’s closure.

Buyucan said they are hoping before October, the city will have a contract with a new transfer facility so as not to affect its daily garbage collection.

“We are waiting for the result of negotiations with Porac and Floridablanca in Pampanga,” he said, adding based on data, the city would be needing more funds as these options are about 30 kilometers farther than Metro Clark, which means an increment of P7 per kilometer per ton.

Aside from this additional expense, Buyucan is expecting GSO would be needing more due to heavier weight of garbage during rainy season and the expected increase in volume of garbage during the holidays.

Further, he said, the city is also spending on collection from households to the transfer station.

For its long-term plan on waste management, Buyucan said the mayor has pronounced the city will be employing “waste to reuse” although not ruling out possibilities on waste to energy scheme.

He said last year the GSO also requested for P30M for the establishment of a central materials recovery facility (MRF) and P20M this year for the development of a one-hectare lot for the purpose.

Buyucan said the centralized MRF aims to segregate garbage further to reduce residual wastes being hauled out by the city and for the rest of the generated waste to be recycled, reprocessed, and repurposed.

He said this would require purchase of equipment that would process garbage like glass pulverizer and shredder for plastics and cloth.

“The centralized MRF would have machines that would segregate wastes so that we would be able to reuse and reprocess some of the wastes generated that can be recycled and repackaged and have higher value.This could generate some employment for the city,” Buyucan said.

Based on a 2022 waste characterization study, Buyucan said the city generates about 550 tons of garbage a day, around 180 to 200 tons of which are disposed of in Capas, Tarlac.

“This means we are practicing waste segregation at the household level, and out of that 550 tons almost 200 are segregated. We would like to improve this by having a centralized MRF because segregation is still not that efficient. Hopefully, the volume of garbage we haul out will be further reduced so it would mean lesser cost for the city and those materials that could be recovered, reprocessed, and repurposed for other uses would mean economy for the people of Baguio and would generate employment,” he said.

The city spends an average of P190M to P200M for garbage disposal annually, with 22 trucks covering 129 barangays and three city employees assigned per truck along with eight volunteers. It contracts job order services when there are no volunteers.

Buyucan appealed to households to continue practicing waste segregation at source and be responsible in throwing their wastes since indiscriminate throwing of wastes in water systems and not during collection schedules will cause flooding and pollution.