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United Nations turns trash into energy in the Philippines

March 28, 2013

Green energy is one of the industries many predict will carry the global economy into the future. One place that seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to this eco endeavor is the Philippines, where a program sponsored by the United Nations is helping the Asian nation combat it's trash problem and produce clean energy at the same time.

Working with local energy concern Pangea Green Energy Philippines, the U.N. harnesses the methane produced by the garbage rotting in the country's many landfills to create clean, green energy. As the garbage begins to decompose, it's basic elements break down and become methane. The gas is then captured by an intricate irrigation system that runs throughout a landfill, and pumped into a nearby power station where it is used to run turbines that produce electricity.

In addition to the ecological benefits of the process, which helps clean the air and reduces the greenhouse affect in the region, Pangea has also been providing free access to the power created in the stations to people in local communities.

"It really helps because it cuts down on our electricity bills...sometimes we use the savings to buy food," Teresita Mabignay, a woman who lives near one of Manila's largest landfills, told the Associated Foreign Press.

This program is part of a UN initiative to help emerging industrialized nations meet their commitments outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. The document requires all nations to cut emissions and reduce greenhouse gases.

Speaking to the wire service, Pangea's president Jennifer Fernan Campos said that she is pleased to be helping combat global climate change.

"We are also very gratified to be helping the environment and the community," she said. "In our own little way we are mitigating greenhouse gas emissions."

While the program ostensibly provides a worthwhile service while removing dangerous pollutants from the environment, many eco organizations oppose similar waste-to-energy projects. These proponents argue that the only true way to combat the problem of methane gas is to combat the source of it - the garbage and waste itself.

These programs and the complex social issues that underlay them are provide fruit for conversation. Individuals can keep in touch with friends and family on the ground floor by investing in a calling card to the Philippines.

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