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Trash-eating bacteria could mean no more landfills

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By Yas D. Ocampo

HARSH ON TRASH – A backhoe is used to segregate massive amounts of trash that will eventually be broken down into odorless by-products using micro-organisms that thrive in hot areas like hot springs and volcanoes. (Photo courtesy of Hyacinth Jungco)

HARSH ON TRASH – A backhoe is used to segregate massive amounts of trash that will eventually be broken down into odorless by-products using micro-organisms that thrive in hot areas like hot springs and volcanoes. (Photo courtesy of Hyacinth Jungco)

Davao City — A company here may have figured out a truly organic solution to waste management – through the use of organisms that can literally consume trash.

The Davao Thermo Biotech Corporation has invested in hyperthermophilic aerobic bacteria, an idea that is way cooler than it sounds.

The idea is to use microorganisms that thrive in hot areas such as hot springs and volcanoes and feed these with organic waste.

The resulting reaction is that these organisms will eat through the organic waste, and release odorless by products that can be used as fertilizers.

Davao Thermo Biotech Corporation (DTBC) proprietor Roberto Puentespina, in an interview with The Manila Bulletin, said that several local governments are pushing to adopt the method in their towns and municipalities, even as cities still believe that landfills are the answer to trash.

“What we’re saying is the landfill is not the solution,” Puentespina said, adding that the science-based approach is going for a truly zero-waste solution to organic waste

The company collects, for a fee, waste coming from large industries such as malls, fast food restaurants, agricultural properties such as banana plantations.

The company hauls from these companies wastes such as food waste, industry waste, fats, oils, grease, wastewater sludge, agricultural by products such as peelings, even carcasses.

The fermentation process at the company’s waste conversion plant reduces the waste into an odorless substance.

The process also kills pathogenic bacteria and viruses through the resulting heat that is caused by the bacteria feeding on the material.

Think of it as friction brought by the food frenzy, at least coming from the bacteria.

Puentespina said the project has a vision of a waste-free Philippines, which includes solutions to biowaste concerns.

The company has currently partnered with the Benguet State University for further studies on the effects of its fertilizers on vegetables.

Initial studies, he said, have resulted to crops being harvested earlier by three weeks, with the region known as a source of high-value vegetables in Luzon.

“Think of the potentials of three weeks off of harvest time,” Puentespina said.

The plant is located in 3.5 hectares in a private property in Binugao, Toril, with Puentespina willing to host tours and visits to interested parties, including potential clients and academe.

“We want to approach this science-based,” Puentespina, himself a professor at the University of the Philippines, said.

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