THE National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) approved the solid waste management plans (SWMPs) of 22 local government units (LGUs) in May, bringing up its nationwide total of approved plans to 1,082 or 63% of the target, according to a statement from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu chairs the NSWMC.

In its statement Tuesday, the DENR said the approvals include four SWMPs in Misamis Oriental, three in Camarines Sur and two each in Misamis Occidental, Ilocos Norte, Benguet, and Lanao del Norte.

The department’s environmental management bureau reports that 558 SWMPs are being evaluated, with 332 deemed “almost completed,” requiring only some additional data relating to budget requirements and specifics on disposal facilities.

“Enabling our local executives to strengthen their capacities for effective solid waste management is a priority of the DENR and the NSWMC, especially LGUs facing difficulties with their solid waste management programs,” Mr. Cimatu was quoted as saying.

He noted the “continued upward trend” of LGUs whose plans were approved by the NSWMC.

NSWMC Alternate Chair Benny D. Antiporda said that the SWMPs will be vital even for LGUs which cannot set up disposal facilities in their own territory.

“(We) are looking at the clustering of these LGUs sharing a single sanitary landfill, and the approved (SWMP) plans will serve as a blueprint for how these sanitary landfills will be optimized by these clustered LGUs,” Mr. Antiporda said.

Sanitary landfills are waste disposal sites that seek to control significant environmental impacts. Mr. Antiporda said such sites remain the primary method of long-term waste disposal allowed under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Last week, the DENR announced that it has achieved its target of shutting down all 335 open dumpsites. Open dumpsites take in solid waste without further planning or consideration for environment and health standards. They are illegal to operate.

With the closure of dumpsites, LGUs are now required to dispose of their waste in sanitary landfills or residual containment areas. — Angelica Y. Yang