Do you want to see the first sanitary landfill in the Philippines? The place to go is Puerto Princesa.
The sanitary landfill in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines is the first municipal sanitary landfill in the country operated by the local government. The sanitary landfill has been in operation since 2004. Establishment of the project cost PhP170 million, a hefty sum to get rid of wastes in the City of Puerto Princesa.
How to Get There
The sanitary landfill can be accessed from downtown Puerto Princesa in about 30 minutes by any land vehicle via the northbound national highway. It is located in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, about two kilometers westward away from the highway. It is time to turn to the left before you get to see the giant clay jar (local name palayok) put up by the Japanese a long time ago.
Once you arrive in the sanitary landfill area, you will be greeted by the friendly waste management staff who will show a video about the project details. The staff must be informed earlier that you would want to visit the sanitary landfill site to ensure that you get to see the video presentation.
Fig. 1. Entrance to the sanitary landfill (Image Source).
Once you have finished viewing the video on the sanitary landfill, you may visit the waste dumping site. Your hired vehicle which may be a jeep, a van, or whatever vehicle you have is allowed inside the sanitary landfill. You just have to close the windows while you traverse the steep slope. And, of course, get ready to cover your nose and mouth because the place emits a bad smell due to methane generation. The service vehicle may pass through the weigh bridge where the weight of the garbage are monitored.
Fig. 2. The weigh bridge near the entrance of the sanitary landfill (Image Source).
Sea of Wastes
Along the way, you will see a sea of wastes if these are not yet covered with soil. The wastes therein are mainly plastic or nonbiodegradable wastes because of the city government's campaign that only nonbiodegradable materials will have to be thrown into the mobile garbage bins strategically placed in many parts of the city. The garbage are dumped gradually onto sheets of high density polyethylene (HDPE).
Fig. 3. Sea of garbage along the way up in the sanitary landfill (Image Source).
The steep slope ends on level land high up the slope of the hill. You will be greeted by a view of Honda Bay. It should be a breathtaking sight but don't breathe hard as you will smell the decomposing wastes. Your handkerchief will be a great help.
Fig. 4. View of the sanitary landfill from the top of the hill (Image Source).
Slope Stabilization Scheme
Once, the sanitary landfill is barren but planting vetiver grass along the slopes paid off. Now, the growth of the hardy vetiver grass and other species of grasses and ferns contribute to erosion control along the once barren slopes.
Fig. 5. Vetiver grass growing well along the slopes of the sanitary landfill provide erosion control (Image Source).
There is an on-going construction of a private hospital waste treatment plant facility next to the sanitary landfill. It aims to cater to the hospital waste treatment needs of hospitals all over Palawan. When this is completed including other support structures, the sanitary landfill will no longer be called the sanitary landfill but the Waste Management Complex of Puerto Princesa.
Fig. 6. The hospital waste management treatment plant undergoing construction (Image Source).
The sanitary landfill is a great improvement to the once open dumping scheme before this project was realized. As more people migrate and settle in Puerto Princesa, the greater the wastes that are generated in the city. The construction of the sanitary landfill should be coupled with vigorous campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle waste materials. These practices will help reduce burden on the sanitary landfill and extend its life span.
There is also a need to address scavengers in the city because they gather wastes in garbage bins around the city and expose themselves to danger of contracting disease. Alternative livelihood scheme of some sort should be provided to these people.
©27 February 2011 Patrick A. Regoniel Guide to the Sanitary Landfill of Puerto Princesa