Green is Pollution

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

THE Renewable Energy (RE) industry receives preferential treatment. The Biofuels Act imposes 10 percent ethanol in vehicle fuel. This provides an assured market for those companies which manufacture ethanol from sugar cane or other matter.

To implement the Biofuels Act requires approximately 500 million liters of ethanol. Only around 100 million liters is produced in the Philippines. Approximately 80 percent of the ethanol required to implement the Biofuels Act is imported.

The Biofuels Act was drafted to protect our “fledgling” RE Industry. It was “fledgling” in 2007 and it still seems to be fledgling today. When will it be “maturing.”?


We all wanted to support the RE industry. Our support is now wavering due to questions as to whether RE companies are really the pious entities implementing flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that we were led to believe they were. Corporate social irresponsibility (CSI) is closer to the truth.

San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI) has lost the trust of San Carlos residents as a result of its anti-social waste disposal strategies. It seems that San Carlos’ malodorous air would have been avoided if SCBI spent a little more on enzyme treatment of its toxic wastes. For a company with a gross turnover of over P1 billion in 2013, parsimony is not appropriate.

In Isabela, the bioethanol manufacturer Green Future Innovations Inc. (GFII) has acquired a similar CSI reputation as SCBI.

Outrageous allegations that its drivers have been dumping organic waste in farms in Isabela province have been made.

Defending the indefensible is hated by all Public Relations (PR) people. Greg Garcia, GFII corporate affairs manager and administrative officer, is in the hot seat.

He says that GFII has punished some of its drivers who have been caught dumping waste. What instructions were the drivers given? Had GFII made arrangements with anyone prepared to accept the waste? Or were the drivers merely told to “lose’ the waste. Were the drivers given open vehicles so the bad smells would be widely distributed?

The unscrupulousness of both SCBI and GFII in relation to waste disposal puts a serious dent in the reputation of the RE industry.

A rigorous code of practice to which RE companies must adhere is necessary. This code, surely, is the same as the conditions relating to waste disposal as required when the original Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) was issued.

Specifically, waste must be neutralized on the premises. It is not appropriate that malodorousness is distributed far and wide. In the case of GFII, there have been complaints from several towns including San Marino, Benito Soliven, Gamu, Burgos, and Naguilan.

Barging, a euphemism for dumping toxic waste in the sea, should not be allowed. Who knows what ecological disasters may ensue?

The problem is serious and if waste neutralization is expensive, so be it.

The RE lobby should realize that, in principle it has our support. But if bioethanol plants are the source of pollution, our support is withdrawn.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 02, 2014.


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