Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu wants to make the establishment and operation of a sanitary landfill easier and less expensive to allow more local government units (LGUs) to set up their own solid waste management facility amid the worsening garbage collection and disposal problem in the country.

Sanitary landfill is the waste disposal method allowed under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which LGUs are duty-bound to follow.

But Cimatu noted that a lot of LGUs find it difficult to comply with the law as building and maintaining a sanitary landfill can be costly and somewhat complicated.

“Make the establishment and operation of a sanitary landfill simpler and less costly without sacrificing the main objective of proper garbage disposal, which is to prevent lecheate from going to waterways,” Cimatu said as he gave his marching orders to senior officials and employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during his traditional “New Year’s Call” held last January 3.

Cimatu specifically instructed DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda to “review and revise” DENR Administrative Order 2001-34 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9003 “to make way for better and bigger sanitary landfills.”

The DENR chief lamented that only 10 percent of concerned LGUs nationwide have sanitary landfills two decades after RA 9003 was enacted.

A sanitary landfill is a solid waste management facility that utilizes an engineered method of waste disposal, primarily for municipal solid waste. An “engineered” method of landfilling means that garbage is handled at a disposal facility that is designed, constructed and operated in a manner protective of public health and the environment.

Cimatu had earlier said that effective solid waste management may be expensive, but LGUs are not without options.

He said that adjacent municipalities or cities may cluster together and pool their resources to establish a common sanitary landfill.

If lack of funds is a problem, Cimatu said that LGUs may avail of government loans, particularly the one being offered by the Development Bank of the Philippines under its green financing program.

LGUs, he said, can come up with a scheme to pay back the loan, such as through collection of tipping fees.

Meanwhile, Cimatu said during his New Year’s Call that the DENR will continue to strictly implement environmental laws, especially RA 9003, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

He also rallied environment workers to sustain the gains of all environmental programs and projects implemented by the DENR and its bureaus and attached agencies, including the rehabilitation of Manila Bay and Boracay. ###