The country’s lone ISO-certified engineered sanitary landfill operator is gearing up for expansion to serve its growing customer base and fulfill its plan for a waste-to-energy facility in Clark Special Economic Zone.
Metro Clark Waste Management Corp., armed with world-class German technology and run by a dynamic team of service-oriented individuals, has recently exceeded the 2,500-ton volume threshold to pursue a waste-to-energy facility that will bring its operations to the next level.
“We have probably one of the best technologies in the world when it comes to landfill operations and we have the right people to handle those operations,” says MCWM executive vice president Victoria Gaetos, who is in charge of managing the 300 employees of the company and dealing with local government units as customers.
MCWM, a joint venture of Filipino and German investors (BN Ingenieure GmbH and Heers & Brockstedt Umwelttechnik GmBH), operates one of the pioneering highly-technical waste disposal facilities in Asia on a 100-hectare site at Sitio Kalangitan in Barangay Cutcut 2nd in Capas, Tarlac which is a part of Sub Zone D of Clark Special Economic Zone.
“There are now 103 cities and municipalities that have signed contracts with us. We collect 2,800 tons of garbage daily from them,” says Gaetos, who used to head one of the largest car dealerships in Luzon before she joined MCWM. The volume handled by Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill has substantially increased over the past 12 months from only 1,600 tons in 2018 as more LGUs decided to transport their garbage to a world-class facility. Among the company’s biggest customers are Angeles City, Cabanatuan City and Tarlac City, aside from the locators in Clark.
MCWM has recently signed a three-year contract with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to collect the garbage of Subic Bay Freeport Zone locators and residents.
“We are very active now on doing contracts with a lot of LGUs not only in Central Luzon but also in other parts of Luzon such as Pangasinan. We have to reach out and think of ways of getting closer to them. We are planning to have a waste-to-energy plant. We need as many garbage as we can get,” Gaetos says in an interview in Clark.
“Cleaning the environment is our business,” Gaetos says in an interview. “If you compare Metro Clark to ordinary landfills, we are far ahead in terms of service. We have transformed the way landfill should be managed. It is not only about a profitable venture, but it is also about our advocacy which is to protect the environment. Even if the cost is too high, we put in the required protection. There is none like us in the Philippines. We adhere to environmental laws.”
Gaetos says MCWM’s main facility is built based on internationally accepted standards which substantially exceed the Philippines’ sanitary landfill standards as stipulated under Republic Act No. 9003 or Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000. The company has already invested hundreds of millions to put up the facility and plans to invest more in its power component.
She says of the 100 hectares of Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill, 70 hectares are dedicated for the landfill, 10 hectares for recycling facilities, 15 hectares for environmental buffer and 5 hectares for offices and other uses. “We are the first landfill in Asia to receive ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001:2015 for quality management systems,” she says.
The landfill integrates cutting-edge technology and highly-advanced engineering to control the poisonous gas and foul-smelling liquid produced by decaying wastes.
MCWM is using a containerized system to ensure the efficient handling of wastes for all local government units. Wastes are delivered by trucks and trailers equipped to carry 25 to 300 tons of garbage at a time. The company has a fleet of 14 hook lift trucks, 14 trailers and 10 dump trucks.
Gaetos says the wastes delivered and disposed to the site undergo a meticulous process to guarantee the safety and protection of the environment. The landfill has multi-layered liners of gravel, sand, high-density polyethylene plastic and clays to ensure that no liquid pollutants called leachate from the landfill could harm the soil or the groundwater. This makes MCWM the only garbage disposal facility to have such multi-layer protection for the aquifer.
Gaetos says the 2.5 mm HDPE plastic liner is much thicker than the 1.5-mm minimum thickness mandated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
She says the very dense clay material about 60 meters below the surface naturally protects the groundwater. The landfill also has a gas control recovery system and a drainage system for the leachate which is forwarded to the leachate treatment plant that prevents soil and air pollution. The treatment facility cleans the leachate in a natural way through a reed bed.
MCWM also has a centralized recycling facility at the waste management center where materials are segregated for recycling or processing into secondary fuel. It will soon build a waste-to-energy plant that will use the secondary fuel as the primary feedstock to generate up to 35 megawatts of renewable energy.
Gaetos says that once completed, the power component will reduce the amount of residual waste disposed of at the landfill by 70 percent, extend the lifespan of the solid waste management system for another 50 years and decrease the emissions of landfill leachate and landfill gas by eliminating the disposal of organic waste in the landfill.
Gaetos says the landfill, which began operations in 2003, is ready to accommodate more wastes from other localities including Metro Manila and Calabarzon as it can handle 4,000 tons daily on the 20-hectare landfill so far which can be easily expanded up to 70 hectares.
Data show that the Philippines generates more than 53,000 tons of solid wastes daily, enough to cover Fort Bonifacio with eight feet of garbage per year. Gaetos says that at present, every Filipino generates half a kilogram of wastes daily, most of which end up in unregulated dumpsites, rivers or sidewalks. Many localities across the country still operate open dumpsites which expose the seas, rivers and groundwater resources to pollutants.
Gaetos says the MCWM facility is well-positioned to serve the waste management needs of more cities and municipalities to prevent them from harming the environment and making sure that they use innovative, secure, efficient and environmentally-sound waste management practices.
“We have the technology of waste management solutions that meet international standards and we comply with all the environmental laws of the Philippines. When it comes to the operation of a landfill, we can say we are world-class. When it comes to management, I could say we are now creating a culture that is not ordinarily being done by any other landfill. When it comes to taking care of our customers, I could say we provide the best service to our customers. At the same time, we are advocating for a cleaner environment. We want to clean every town and city in the Philippines,” she says.
“We are very lucky to have the best technology, but the most important thing is sustainability.
Our vision is to really provide solutions for a clean environment and to achieve that vision, we have the best people to do it,” says Gaetos.
She says the key to this success is keeping the MCWM employees happy by training them, equipping them and providing them with good benefits and stable income above the minimum wage.
“You have to create a culture that will encourage people to do what is right. You have to keep your employees happy, and if they are happy, they will make your customers happy. If your customers are happy, they will make your stockholders happy. So everybody is happy,” she says.
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