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➨24ᅇᗫᲠ≀㈨※ᚠ⎔Ꮫ఍◊✲Ⓨ⾲఍ㅮ₇ㄽᩥ㞟 2013

Status of Solid Waste Management in the Philippines

‫ۑ‬Alicia L. Castillo1), Suehiro Otoma1)

University of Kitakyushu, Japan


The global community recognized that Solid Waste Management (SWM) is an issue that requires serious
attention. The aggressive pursuit for economic growth, by developing countries like the Philippines, has resulted in the
manufacture, distribution and use of products and generation of wastes that contributes to environmental degradation
and global climate change. Available data showed that the Philippines is the 9th most among the countries at risk from
climate change due to rise of sea levels, intense storm surges and droughts. This is heavily manifested in the frequent
and intense floods the country is experiencing from devastating typhoons which, many claim, are due to climate change.
Along with WKHFRXQWU\¶Veconomic progress, the rapid growth in population has also made waste management a major
environmental challenge for the country. The Philippine National StatLVWLFV 2IILFH 162  HVWLPDWHG WKH FRXQWU\¶V
population in 2012 to be around 97 million with an annual growth rate of 1.87%. According to this figure, the
Philippines is the 12th largest country in the world today.
The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act 9003) was approved in January 26, 2001
and came into effect on February 16, 2001. (FRORJLFDO6ROLG:DVWH0DQDJHPHQWXQGHUWKHODZUHIHUVWRWKH³systematic
administration of activities which provide for segregation at source, segregated transportation, storage, transfer,
processing, treatment, and disposal of solid waste and all other waste management activities which do not harm the
environment´. In the country, the local government units (LGUs) hold the primary responsibility for the effective and
efficient solid waste management. Despite this law, however, poor solid waste management in the Philippines is still
prevalent since open and controlled dumps are being used in the country. This poses great threats on the country¶s
environment and public health that include: a) alteration of physical and chemical properties of soil due to percolation
of landfill gases (CO2 and CH4) and leachates from unsanitary landfills and open dumps; b) objectionable odor; and c)
soil and groundwater pollution. But the gravest problem now in the country is the scarcity of new landfill sites for the
growing number of garbage generated by the Filipinos. %DVHG RQ WKH ³*DUEDJH %RRN RI $VLDQ 'HYHORSPHQW %DQN´
published in 2004, Metro Manila alone is projected to generate over seventy million tons of solid waste in the next
thirty years. However, many landfills in the Philippines are already filled up to its capacity and forced to close. This
was intensely felt due to the premature closure of the San Mateo Waste Disposal Facility (SMWDF) sometime in 2000,
since this dumpsite was then used as garbage disposal for most of solid waste generated in Metro Manila.
This paper reviews the management and challenges of municipal SWM in the Philippines in the midst of the
growing number of garbage generated by the substantial population in the urban centers of the country and the possible
and innovative ways to manage solid waste.

Analyses of Solid Waste Management Policies and Issues

Waste generations by residents in the Philippines, especially in the urban areas, have accelerated recently due
to fast pace industrialization, urbanization and population growth. Since incineration of solid waste is not allowed
under Republic Act 9003 for the safety of human health and protection of environment, land filling and the 3 5¶V
integrated waste management method (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) are the main types of SWM in the country. The
law also requires the mandatory segregation at source of solid waste into containers labeled as: compostable, recyclable,
non-recyclable, or special use.
Collection of waste in the country is done by the Department of Public Service, city administrator and
engineering office or private haulers. Informal waste sector are also involved in the waste collection and storage in the
country. They are the itinerant waste buyers, jumpers at collection trucks, garbage crew, and small and illegal
About 35,580 tons of garbage is generated every day in the Philippines. On the average, each person in the
country produces about 0.5 kg and 0.3 kg of garbage every day in the urban and rural areas, respectively. For Metro
Manila, it is estimated that 8,636 tons of garbage is generated per day, i.e., 0.7 kg per person per day due to its more
modernized lifestyle. The household is the major source of waste in the Philippines at 74%. Moreover, of the total
solid waste generated from households, 95% can still be reused or recycled (43%), or turned into compost (52%). Only
5% is made up of residuals (4%) and special/hazardous waste (1%) that are no longer usable or biodegradable (JICA
Waste Characterization Study, 1997).

Alicia L. Castillo, Master Student, Environmental Resources System, Graduate School of Environmental Engineering,
The University of Kitakyushu, 1-1, Hibikino, Wakamatsu-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 808-0135, Japan
Tel: +81 80-3951-8412 Fax: +81-93-695-3368 E-mail:

Keywords: climate change, solid waste, sanitary landfill, open dumps, recycling

➨24ᅇᗫᲠ≀㈨※ᚠ⎔Ꮫ఍◊✲Ⓨ⾲఍ㅮ₇ㄽᩥ㞟 2013

Only 40-85% of the waste generated is collected nationwide, implying that 15-60% is improperly disposed of
or littered. The maximum collection rate of 85% is recorded in Metro Manila. The uncollected garbage is,
unfortunately, burned or dumped anywhere onto open areas, called open dumps, adding to the now polluted air shed and
water body, and global warming in the country.
While recycling through the establishment of Municipal Recovery Facilities (MRF), that includes waste
transfer station, and composting and recycling facilities, is mandated under RA 9003, most Local Government Units
(LGUs) do not comply with this mandate. Even though the law requires the establishment of an MRF in every
barangay or cluster of barangays, only about 21% or 8,843 barangays are being serviced by MRFs in the country. In
Metro Manila, though, compliance rate is slightly higher at 56% which is more than the national average. 7KH³6WXG\
on Recycling Industry Development in the Philippines (2006- ´ by JICA and Bureau of Industry-Board of
Investment (BOI) showed that the limiting factors to the recovery of recyclables materials are the concentration of
recycling industries in selected areas, i.e., high cost of transporting recyclable materials, and weakness of local
recycling industries due to high operating costs.
With regards to the disposal facilities, only about 4% or 56 local government units are now using sanitary
landfills (SLF) as seen in Table 1. The low compliance of LGUs to establish sanitary landfills were being attributed to
the high cost needed to close dumpsites, and limited financial and technical assistance to implement the law. Hence,
some LGUs are still using common sanitary landfills. Of the 946 open and controlled dumps, 68 of these are being
rehabilitated for closure. Metro Manila LGUs are now using sanitary landfills. Sanitary landfills being used by Metro
Manila LGUs are: Navotas SLF, Rizal Provincial SLF and the Pilotage SLF. This apparent use of unlined unsanitary
landfills and open dumps places the Philippines in a precarious condition, since such pitiful state implies a condition
that permit the mixture of precipitation with degradable organic matter from MSW to form leachate percolation into the
soil that may eventually contaminate surface and groundwater in the country.

Table 1. Waste Disposal Facilities (2012)

Indicator National Metro Manila
No. of disposal facilities 991 2
No. of open and controlled dumps 946 (95%)
No. of open and controlled dumps
68 (7%)
under rehabilitation and closure
No. of sanitary landfills 45 (4%) 2
No. of LGUs served by SLFs 56 (4%) 3
Compliance rate 4.64% 88%
Source: National Solid Waste Management Commission Secretariat (NSWMCS) database

While it is apparent that there are many LGUs that are having difficulty in complying WR5$¶VLQWHJUDWHG
waste management method of establishing sanitary landfills and MRFs, there are some LGUs like the municipality of
Los Banos that was able to successfully address the problem of solid waste through innovative ways of participation,
community mobilization and highly motivated and political will of the highest LGU official in the community. The
Mayor Antonio F. Genuino used participation and community mobilization in a three dimensional approach of social,
political and technical aspects to resolve the solid waste management problem. On social dimension he involved the
people and various sectors of the community through multi-Information Education Campaign (IEC) approaches of
dialogues and consultations. The LGU also promoted the use of alternative eco-friendly containers to replace plastics
and Styrofoam. He then instilled to the people that solid waste management is not only the responsibility of the LGU
but also the responsibility of every individual in the community. On the political dimension, he passed an ordinance on
waste segregation and anti-littering law to complement the community initiatives. Lastly, technical dimensions were
instituted, by means of organizing collection schedule, segregation at source, unloading of bio-wastes, shredding &
composting of residual wastes, distribution of composting drums, and composting at household level. Coordination was
also done by the LGU with plastic and polystyrene industries on recovery and recycling systems. And the LGU also
established an informal Peoples Organization composed of waste pickers, buyers and scavengers that successfully
achieved the twin objectives of minimizing solid waste in the municipality and uplifting the economic status of this
vulnerable group.


In general, the reduction, reuse and recycling system, and ultimate disposal in environmentally sanitary landfill
in the Philippines, unfortunately, could still be considered as not effective and efficient in attaining a clean environment
the low compliance of LGUs to Republic Act 9003 and rampant littering and unhealthy practice of burning wastes in
some open dumps and areas. Hence, we believe that the key to effective solid waste management in the Philippines is
firstly the political will of the LGUs to innovatively comply with RA 9003, through mobilization and participation of
community, private and informal waste sectors towards minimizing solid waste and uplifting the economic status of the
vulnerable groups of waste pickers, buyers and scavengers.