What do you know about solid waste management in the Philippines?
Start with these statistics!
Interested in solid waste management planning?
Waste management in the Philippines is an often-forgotten issue.
These 13 statistics illustrate the status of solid waste management in the Philippines.
18 Million tons
The projected annual waste of the Philippines at 18.05 Million Tons by 2020, according to the latest Solid Waste Management Status Report (2008-2018)
That’s equivalent to more than 2 MILLION ELEPHANTS!
This figure may be an underestimation, as it does not account the COVID-19 pandemic.
By 2025, solid waste generation of the Philippines is expected to become 77,776 tons daily, accounting natural population growth (births and deaths only).
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.
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 2021.
RA 9003 is a declaration to “adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program.”
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.
Cities of the Philippines and Waste Management Series:
- Waste Generation of Philippine Cities
- Waste Management Information on Antipolo City, Rizal
- Waste Management Information on Dasmarinas City, Cavite
- Waste Management Information on San Pablo City, Laguna
- Waste Management Information on Cavite City, Cavite
- FREE! Tool for Gathering Waste Management Data
The whole fraction of total barangays in the Philippines served by material recovery facilities (MRFs) as of 2016.
Out of the 42,044 barangays in the Philippines in 2018, 13,612 were served by MRFs (NSWMC Report 2008-2018).
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 penalty sentenced to an elected official found guilty of the provisions of RA 9003 on open dumps.
A December 2020 Municipal Trial Court Decision found an elected official in Region 3 (Central Luzon) guilty of violating provisions on the establishment and operation of open dumps (Section 48 (9)). Sentence is a fine of P500,000 and 5% of net annual income for the year 2010.
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.
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 percentage of local government units with access to sanitary landfills in 2018.
The Philippine Ecological Solid Waste Management Law mandates sanitary landfills as “alternative final disposal sites” to open and controlled dumpsites. Sanitary landfills have “engineering control over significant potential environmental impacts.”
All dumpsites should have been closed and phased out in 2006.
In 2018, there were still 353 illegal dumpsites operating (NSWMC).
Local government units are not required to establish their own sanitary landfills. Common waste disposal facilities, and waste management facilities in general, can be shared, pursuant to the Cooperative Undertakings provision of the Local Government Code (Section 33 of Republic Act 7160.
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.
- National Solid Waste Management Status Report (2008-2018)
- 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