Waste management in the Philippines is an often-forgotten issue. As an environmental scientist, I hope to encourage you towards proper waste management.
I enumerate these 11 statistics about solid waste management in the Philippines to illustrate the importance of rethinking our perspective about waste as an unsolvable problem.
The total volume (in tons) of solid waste that the Philippines generates daily, according to 2016 data.
To compare, in Singapore, a person generates 3.72 kg of solid waste daily (otherwise known as daily per capita generation). In the Philippines, a person generates around 0.40 kg daily.
By 2025, solid waste generation of the Philippines is expected to become 77,776 tons daily, accounting natural population growth (births and deaths only).
The whole fraction of solid waste generated that is biodegradable, as of 2015.
With proper composting, especially backyard composting, a significant volume of waste can be reduced from management.
However, the dense disarrangement of our cities present issues for backyard composting.
The age of RA 9003, the landmark law, as of January 2020.
RA 9003 is a declaration to “adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program.”
If RA 9003 was human, it would be nearing graduation! The law, being human, should be able to sustain itself.
Three presidents – Macapagal-Arroyo, Aquino, Duterte – were not enough to achieve the salient conditions of the landmark law: particularly waste segregation at source.
The target waste diversion rate of the incumbent National Solid Waste Management Strategy (2012-2016).
Waste diversion are “activities which reduce or eliminate the amount of solid waste from waste disposal facilities (RA 9003).” These include reduction of waste at the source, recycling and composting.
Latest available data of 2015 suggests that average diversion rate in Metro Manila is 48% while outside Metro Manila is 46% (although many LGUs report lower.)
A negative insight is that the NSWMC has yet to upload in their website a successor Strategy, which should have covered 2017 and beyond.
The whole fraction of total barangays in the Philippines served by material recovery facilities (MRFs) as of 2016,
RA 9003 provides the establishment of common waste disposal facilities, including material recovery facilities.
The law does not mandate individual barangays to operate individual MRFs. Facilities can be shared among clusters of barangays.
Therefore, I argue that the lack of supervision of the municipal/city government in establishing shared facilities is to be blamed for the low percentage of barangays with access to MRFs.
The number of local government executives investigated by the Ombudsman through complaints filed by the Ecowaste Coalition on February 2016.
The progress of the investigations manifest that local governments are being made accountable for failure to implement proper solid waste management systems, albeit through a slow and tedious process.
The fraction of plastic waste in the total waste generated by the Philippines, according to a 2019 PhilStar article.
It is good that plastic waste is receiving worldwide attention because it is really a difficult material to dispose.
However, other types of waste are not receiving as much attention, e.g., food waste and paper waste.
For instance, segregating paper from wet waste must also be promoted to better recycle paper. Latest data from NSWMC in 2014 pegs paper waste composition at 8% of all national waste.
Paper waste has impacts on water use and toxic pollutants.
The fraction of submitted solid waste management plans that have been approved by the NSWMC as of September 2017.
The approval of submitted local plans is critical because it affects the local government’s access to national funds for implementing their ten-year management plans.
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Local governments have often been blamed for lack of technical capability and failure to generate plans. This statistic highlights issues on the national government side – “lack of institutional capacity by the EMB in terms of providing technical support to LGUs (SEPO 2017).”
Of course, the local government must not wait until SWM plans are approved before instigating behavior change in their constituents, which is a more effective waste management policy than technical interventions.
The NSWMC has recently updated their list of approved plans as of May 2019. According to the list, in Metro Manila, only the Municipality of Pateros has no approved SWM plan.
Interested in solid waste management planning?
The contribution of the waste sector in the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions of the country as of 2012.
The solid waste sector contributes to human-induced GHG emissions mainly through collection and disposal processes.
Garbage trucks run on fossil fuel.
Waste diversion facilities have machines that emit smoke.
Backyard burning becomes harmful as waste content includes plastic waste.
Incineration is prohibited in the country through the Clean Air Act (RA 8749), so waste-to-energy (WTE) is being pursued. However, the pursuit of WTE technologies is also deemed a loss scenario by waste campaign groups.
The estimated fraction of municipal solid waste budget spent on collection and disposal services, based on a 2013 study of developing countries.
According to What a Waste 2.0, high income countries spend 4% of total municipal budget on solid waste, middle-income countries 11%, and low-income countries 19%.
The Philippines is classified as a lower-middle-income country.
Reducing generated solid waste will also reduce the needed budget for collection and disposal.
The unspent amount can then be shifted towards information and education (as I simulated in my journal paper), which will enhance the involvement of citizens in solid waste management practices.
A model in waste collection budget is San Fernando City, Pampanga, which has reduced its waste management expenditure from P70M to P15M.
The fraction of total municipal solid waste of Quezon City that is recovered by the informal sector, says a 2012 study.
The informal sector refers to scavengers, waste pickers, and other individuals who are “involved in the extraction of recyclable and reusable materials from mixed waste (Wilson 2006)”.
Being a major city, Quezon City must become an example for proper solid waste management.
The informal sector has been argued to be an important component of the solid waste management system, particularly by a 2012 study in Iloilo City. While the activities of the informal sector provide enhanced income opportunities for the poor, they are not always integrated in waste management strategies.
Do you have solid waste management stats to share? Write them in the comments!
- PAGE: Urban Solid Waste Management in the Philippines
- [SEPO} Senate Economic Planning Office. 2017. Philippines Solid Wastes At A Glance.
- Tantuco, V. (2018, September 14). Why can’t the Philippines solve its trash problem? Rappler.
- What a Waste 2.0
- Solid waste management books on Amazon (affiliate link)
[Update Oct 2, 2019] I received this anonymous comment on Sept 25, 2019:
halos mag 2 taon ko pang lang hinagawakan ang SWM, obserbasyon ko. least priority sa mga public officials, takot sa enforcement lalu nat marami ang mamumultahan at hindi lantad ang tangibility ng benefits (gusto mga ma epal na proyekto). inferior work force. i decided to organize a green civic group to help the behavior change thru education. every week twice kaming umiikot to collect nonbio recyclables waste. our weekly collection sustain the segregation and diversion awareness. city contracted truck collection ay pabigat pa dahil konsintidor sa pick up ng recyclables waste, business waste at bulky waste (dun kasi nagkakapera). ang IECC information, education, campaign at communication ay outdated sa content at value.