Legazpi adopts charcoal briquetting as another industry for the poor

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) — Taking advantage of the technology developed by a research arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the local government here is adopting charcoal briquetting as an alternative industry for its marginalized communities.

Besides being a livelihood prospect for the poor, this venture will also be part of the city’s solid waste management system in furtherance of its compliance with Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

It could also earn for the local government equivalent “carbon credits” under possible new carbon finance schemes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a new financing incentive for reducing deforestation.

Called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Plus, this UNFCCC financing program is expected to be approved by this year, according to latest information from the DENR.

The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), meanwhile, is offering intensive training and a possible supply chain linkages to local government units (LGUs) through its charcoal briquetting program.

The ERDB is the principal research and development unit of the DENR whose extension activities are focused on the five major ecosystems of the Philippines such as forests, upland farms, grassland and degraded areas, coastal zone and freshwater and urban areas.

It is tasked to provide appropriate technology and information through research, development and extension towards the enhanced productivity and sustainability of natural resources and protection of the environment for the improvement of quality of life of the Filipinos.

Among its latest offerings is the carbon briquetting technology (CBT), as a livelihood opportunity where charcoal briquettes could be produced from biomasses which are normally considered wastes.

This technology does not only save trees from being cut down, but it also serves as strategy for solid waste management in the metropolis and upland areas, according to Salve Coral, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief.

Briquetting, she explained, is the process of converting low bulk density biomass into high density and energy concentrated fuel briquettes.

Coral said the biomass charcoal briquetting technology uses a modified kiln and a briquetting machine that can be fabricated locally to produce bio-char from various biomass samples.

Biomass briquettes are made from agricultural wastes and are a replacement for fossil fuels such as oil or coal, and can be used to heat boilers in manufacturing plants.

These can also have applications in rural areas as a renewable source of energy and avoid adding fossil carbon to the atmosphere, she said.

The CBT involves the use of a low-cost effective binder to prepare the briquettes, the CENRO chief added.

DENR Regional Director for Bicol Gilbert Gonzales said the ERDB’s research on the production of charcoal briquette has reached a success level for small communities and it is commendable that the city government is making use of it to provide livelihood opportunities to grassroots communities.

The charcoal briquetting technology is an environment friendly way to generate income that requires low-cost machineries that include carbonizer, mixer, briquettor and dryer which are easy to operate even by a person with disability (PWD). ERDB also offers training sessions on the production of this environment-friendly charcoal out of various biodegradable waste materials and farm refuse such as rice bran, coir pith, sugarcane bagasse, groundnut shells, mustard stalks, jute sticks and coconut husk, among others, according to Gonzales.

The DENR-ERDB’s CBT is also an excellent approach to solid waste management for many LGUs that is why the agency is encouraging as many potential technology adopters across the country, he said.

Through this CBT, he said, the ERDB could be of assistance in LGU compliance to the Solid Waste Management Act that has been a challenge for many municipal, city and provincial governments despite its passage more than 10 years ago.

This bureau is open to sharing the technology to any sector interested as it provides training and free demo as part of its collaborative program in technology transfer and extension, Gonzales added.

The city government is adopting the technology for the livelihood benefits that our poor families could derive from it, city mayor Noel Rosal over the weekend said.

“Insofar as compliance with RA 9003, ours is already in place through our solid waste management program instituted since 2009 with the establishment of our modern sanitary landfill in Barangay Banquerohan,” he said.

The city also operates several materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and with this program, waste management practices have been diligently observed.

These practices, Rosal, said include reduction of waste at the level of households, offices, and business establishments; resource recovery, recycling, and reusing at the barangay level; collection, transfer, and transport of waste at the city level; and management of residual waste at the city level.

According to Coral, the city’s waste reduction has been remarkable through these practices–from 0.5 kilograms of solid waste generated per capita per day in 2009, the amount has been reduced to the present 0.29 kilograms of solid waste generated per capita per day.

From these MRFs, the city mayor said, some of the materials needed for charcoal briquetting ventures can be sourced and help the facility its disposal of recovered materials.(PNA)