Lucena, being the only highly urbanized city in Southern Tagalog has faced the same environmental concerns as other major cities in the country. The inevitable accumulation of waste and pollutants brought about by its growing population, rapid development and the increasing economic activities took its toll on the air and bodies of water. Add to this pressing concern the limited means of handling and disposal of solid wastes.
For decades, Lucena had been operating its City Open Dumpsite under the direct management of the General Services Office-Solid Waste Management Division. However, in 2017, the local government transformed the facility into a Sanitary Landfill as part of its adherence to Republic Act 9003. The former dumpsite was an area of unsegregated household, commercial and industrial wastes. This more than two decades of waste problem challenged Mayor Roderick A. Alcala into considering the Sanitary Landfill as a major development project. The six-month transformation proved that public health and environmental protection are at the forefront of the city government’s priorities.
The Sanitary Landfill (SLF) now operates in compliance with the standards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The SLF features a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where collected wastes are placed for processing which initially involves the final segregation of recovered wastes such as recyclables. The MRF also includes various equipment that shred plastic wastes to serve as raw materials for the production of decorative bricks distributed to schools and other requesting agencies.
These waste management efforts placed the Lucena City Sanitary Landfill among the leading waste disposal facilities in the region. In fact, since 2018, a number of local government units that conducted benchmarking activities aimed at adopting Lucena City’s best practices on solid waste management. The facility is also frequently included in the extension and community services of various organizations.
Today, the Sanitary Landfill provides income to almost 300 individuals, and more than 100 personnel in the Solid Waste Management Unit. The vision to provide sustainable income to beneficiaries of the City Solid Waste Management Program and the mandate to maintain ecological balance in a highly urbanized community of around 300,000 citizens will continue with the city’s development plans.