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Deep Dive: Co-processing Operations in the Philippines

In an earlier technical bulletin, the team looked into the technology of co-processing as one of the key solutions for plastic waste management and the reduction of end-of-life post-consumer plastic waste into nature. In the waste management hierarchy, co-processing in cement kilns with the proper safeguards and monitoring is significantly more sustainable than incineration and landfilling.

It is important to distinguish between co-processing (as a waste treatment process) and incineration. In the recently published Waste to Energy in the Age of the Circular Economy Best Practice Handbook, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) clarifies that incineration is a term associated with the highly pollutive practices that date back in the 1960s and that modern thermal treatment technologies provide sustainable and measurable ways where air pollutants are mitigated.1 Government regulations on emissions have similarly evolved over time that focuses on ensuring that operators are monitored and guided by environmental limits. The same is true for the Philippines. The Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) through Administrative Order 2010-06 titled ‘Guidelines on the Use of Alternative Fuels and Raw Materials in Cement Kilns’ specifies the need for facilities to have a continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) that measure and record various air quality parameters such as particulates, NOx and SOx. DAO 2010-06 requires that co-processing facilities shall have the capability of controlling inputs and process parameters for the effective co-processing of waste materials and have an approved procedure for each type of waste materials to be co-processed.2

In this technical note, PCEx focuses on the implementation and the data-driven assessment of the compliance to the requirements of DAO 2010-06 of the various co-processing plants that we work with. PCEx is committed to regularly vetting our processing partners to ensure that we are working with environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions providers in achieving plastic neutrality.

Further, PCEx specifies in the Plastic Waste Reduction Standard the commitment to relevant safeguard systems that include:

1. Section 7.1 Environmental Impact and Pollution Prevention through data-driven due diligence to provide assurance that the process of reducing the plastic waste have no detrimental impacts to other aspects of the environment 2. Section 7.2 Occupational Health and Safety that considers the health and welfare of the people involved in all stages of operations and that necessary measures are in place to avoid accidents, injuries or diseases arising from the activities 3. Section 7.4 Prohibited Materials and Activities to ensure that the conduct of activities are within the requirements of international conventions and local regulations.

PCEx works with some of the biggest cement co-processing plants in the Philippines. We have collated the most recent and available information from these partners sustainability reporting that covers the level of compliance and the quality of emissions from their operations. Co-processing partners have their own methods of reporting their information, so PCEx has collated them in a manner that can be readily compared with the corresponding standards. The following table summarizes the emissions data gathered from the partners

Further to regular monitoring, these partners have committed to actively improving their facilities and equipment to further manage the impact of their processes. These include:

1. Solid Cement (CEMEX) uses electrostatic precipitators and bag house dust collectors to reduce the remaining particles in the air, providing additional layers of containment.

2. Republic Cement installed state-of-the-art bag filters in the Bulacan plant that reduces dust emissions by as much as 75%.

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