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BAGUIO CITY – (June 17, 2029) – The volume of garbage being hauled out by the city has dropped to 17% since the start of the pandemic, according to General Services Officer Eugene Buyucan.

In his report to the city council during the regular session last Monday, Buyucan said prior to the pandemic, the amount of garbage transported to the landfill reached an average of 180-185 tons daily.

However, during the coronavirus outbreak, the city is hauling out an average of 150-155 tons of garbage daily, a decrease of about 30 tons.

The volume of hauled garbage even dipped to 140 tons daily during the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last year, Buyucan added.

He said the decrease of volume of waste could be attributed to the suspension of operations of some business establishments, the regulated entry of tourists into the city, and the reduction of number of students in the city due to the implemented flexible learning in view of the pandemic.

The city also currently generates an average of 10-15 tons of biodegradable waste daily which is being processed in the Environmental Recycling System (ERS) facility at Irisan, the officer added.

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In March 2021, the city government entered a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Metro Clark Waste Management (MCWM) after the Urdaneta Engineered Sanitary Landfill was ordered closed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for rehabilitation purposes.

The contract was valid for 30 days starting March 8, 2021 and has been renewed monthly thereafter.

The company owns and operates an engineered sanitary landfill (ESL) located at Clark Integrated Waste Management Center, Subzone D, Clark Special Economic Zone, Capas, Tarlac.

The contract stipulates a tipping fee of P650.00 per ton, the same amount paid by the city to the Urdaneta ESL.

However, Buyucan revealed that the hauling cost to the Metro Clark ESL is P1,400.00 which is twice more expensive than the hauling cost to the Urdanta ESL. He added that the ESL located at Capas, Tarlac is the nearest and the only available repository of the city’s waste.

The GSO chief mentioned that 230 million is the earmarked amount in the city’s annual budget  for the collection of garbage and hauling of waste to the sanitary landfill. Of the amount, 90 million is spent for hauling costs and tipping fees. Other expenses include operational and administrative costs, maintenance of the city’s hauler trucks, salaries and benefits of employees and volunteers, and the purchase of protective gears and uniforms for the same.

According to Buyucan, the one-month contract with the MCWM which is being renewed on a monthly basis is a favorable arrangement on the part of the city government as it intends to go back to hauling the city’s residual waste to the Urdaneta ESL once it resumes its operations. The city government would not be able to sustain its budget for waste collection if it continues its partnership with the MCWM, he explained.

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In December 2020, the city council in a resolution requested the executive department to conduct a feasibility study for the privatization and one-time collection of the city’s garbage from source to landfill.

The goal of the study is to find out through empirical evidence if the said privatization is more viable and efficient than the current system of the city.

The output of the study will map out the preferred strategy for the city’s waste collection. This requires the assistance of one resource economist, one business development and entrepreneurship specialist, and one data analytics specialist.

The council resolution claimed that the plan to privatize may result in cost reduction and may bring about increased efficiency.

Last Monday, the city council approved the second supplemental budget for 2021. One of the 16 prioritized projects covered by the second supplemental budget is the conduct of the said feasibility study which will cost P400,000.00.

In an earlier interview, Buyucan said he is open to the idea of commissioning a private company for the city’s garbage collection. He claimed that the city may be able to cut its expenses for the said operation.

β€œIf we bring in a private company, the city may be able to save money used for personal services, for the procurement of vehicles, and for maintenance,” Buyucan said. –Jordan G. Habbiling