DOSTs Bioreactor at the RTN facility can process 500 kilos of waste materials that will produce the same amount of fertilizers and soil conditioners.

Rio Tuba Nickel (RTN) has integrated into its operation a bioreactor technology developed by the  Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that converts biodegradable wastes into organic fertilizers and soil conditioners.

RTN, a subsidiary of the Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), adopted this innovative soil conditioning technology through DOST technology transfer program.

According to DOST project supervisor Dr. Myra L. Tansengco, Ph.D., the principle behind the bioreactor developed by their Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) is to promote efficient solid waste management practices in the communities to comply with Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000”.

“RTN is the first mining company to use the fertilizer and soil conditioner from this bioreactor for their rehabilitation programs and for use in the communities,” Dr. Tansengco said.

The RA 9003 was signed into law in 2001. It is the legal framework for a systematic, comprehensive, and ecological solid waste management program in the Philippines.

Engr. David L. Herrera, senior science specialist at the DOST, explained that the challenge is still for the barangay level folks to be able to visualize how solid waste can be useful, for the individual and for the community as a whole, in order for them to be really serious about waste segregation.

“We are banking on RTN’s community relations competency. I believe that if the barangay folks can distinctly understand how wastes are converted into useful materials, waste segregation will be easy to enforce,” Herrera said.

On the other hand, Wilbern Blitz Paeste, RTN’s mining technology and geosciences coordinator, said RTN is proud to be the first in the mining industry to run the bioreactor which gives the integrity to compel the community to segregate household waste.

“We are committed to educate the barangays on how solid wastes from their homes and backyards, when handled properly, can contribute to the protection of the environment and help reduce environment degradation,” Paeste said.

Paeste shared that DOST’s bioreactor is in one of the facilities established by RTN to promote materials recovery.

Materials to be fed in the bioreactor are biodegradable wastes from the communities, classified as – dry waste, wet waste, and animal manure. Efficient classification and segregation of wastes are critical to produce fertilizers and soil conditioners.

RTN hopes that the people in the communities can envision how their daily household wastes can actually help grow plants and help make more productive the soils in the mine site in preparation for rehabilitation.

“When everyone can clearly picture this process, we are confident of a successful solid waste management program in the mining communities,” Paeste said.

For her part, Engr. Cynthia Rosero, RTN resident mine manager, added that RTN intends to extend the use of these organic fertilizers for the ongoing vegetable production projects in the IP communities in Rio Tuba that aims to cater to the growing demands for organic vegetables in Palawan.