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The Philippines’

Brown Environment
September 2005


1. How much solid waste is generated daily in the Philippines?

An average Filipino generates 0.3 and 0.5 kg (rural and urban areas, respectively) of
solid waste daily. 1 Makati City has a per capita waste generation of 0.71 kg. Of the
country’s 16 regions, the National Capital Region accounts for 23 percent of the total
solid waste generated in the country annually.

2. What is the composition of solid waste generated in the country?

In Metro Manila, the National Solid waste

Management Commission reports that DID YOU KNOW THAT…
food/kitchen wastes account for about 45
percent of the total solid waste (estimated • It takes about 20 times more energy to
make aluminum can from new materials
at 6,700 metric tons daily) generated in
than from recycled materials?
the area. Paper waste accounts for 16
• Making paper and glass out of recycled
percent; plastic, 15 percent; glass and materials uses about 25 percent less
wood, 9 percent; others 15 percent. energy than making them from new
In 2003, the USAID-assisted Philippine • Producing aluminum can from recycled
Environmental Governance (EcoGov) materials creates 95 percent less air
Project conducted a study of solid waste pollution than from making it from raw
generation in nine cities and 10 materials?
municipalities (outside of Metro Manila) in • We keep 7,000 gallons of water from being
the country. The study reveals that of the treated with chemicals for every ton of
total solid waste paper we recycle?
generated by these • To produce 1 ton of paper, we need to cut
A 2003 EcoGov study of down 17 trees.
19 LGUs shows 80 local government
percent of waste need units (LGUs), a little
not go to the dumpsite. more than 60 percent
are biodegradable
(can be composted), about 20 percent are
recyclable and only 2 percent are special
wastes. Only about 18 percent are
residual wastes, or those that can neither
be composted or recycled and have to go to a dumpsite. This
means close to 80 percent of total waste need not be brought to the dumpsite!

1 Report from the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

The Philippines’ Brown Environment 1

3. What is RA 9003?

RA 9003 otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000
is the law that governs the management of solid waste in a system that will pose the
least environmental and health impacts.

4. What is ecological Solid Waste Management (SWM)?

SWM is the systematic management of solid waste which provides for:

• Waste reduction at source;
• Segregation at source for recovery of re-usable, recyclable and compostable
• Segregated transportation, storage, transfer, processing treatment and
disposal of solid wastes; and
• All other waste management activities which do not harm the environment.

5. What are the mandatory requirements under R. A. 9003?

The mandatory requirements are:

• All LGUs shall divert at least 25 percent of all solid waste from waste disposal
facilities within five years after the Act takes effect.
• Segregation of waste shall primarily be conducted at the source. Solid waste
shall be segregated into the following categories:
o Compostable (biodegradable)
o Recyclable (and reusable)
o Non-recyclable (residual and non-toxic)
o Special wastes (Toxic and Hazardous)
o Any other classification determined by the National Solid Waste
Management Commission.
There shall be separate containers for each type
of waste from all sources and it shall be properly
• Creation of SWM Board
• Closure of open dumpsites and shift to controlled
dump and later to disposal facility that is better
than controlled dump
• Formulation of 10-year ISWM plan

6. How can LGUs achieve waste Non-biodegradable

diversion? Biodegradable Composting

LGUs can divert their solid waste from

waste disposal through the 3 Rs (Reduce,
Reuse and Recycle) and composting.

Reducing is to simply avoid generating more waste (e.g., buying in bulk: instead of
buying several sachets of shampoo, why not buy a bottle?). Re-using refers to the
recovery of materials intended to be used again either for the same or different
purpose without altering its physical and chemical characteristics (e.g., reusing
bottles, plastic and other containers; using old newspapers as wrapping/packaging
materials). Recycling refers to the process of making them suitable for beneficial use

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and by which solid waste materials are transformed into new products or used as raw
materials for the production of other goods or services. Composting refers to the
controlled decomposition of organic matter by micro-organisms, mainly bacteria and
fungi, into a humus-like product that is called compost.

Re-using, recycling and composting can be best achieved by first practicing waste
segregation at source.

7. What is waste segregation at source?

Segregation at source refers to the practice of separating, at the point of origin

(households, markets, commercial establishments, schools, etc.), different materials
found in solid waste for the purposes of recycling and re-using, as well as
composting, so as to reduce the volume of waste for
collection and disposal to the dumpsite or sanitary landfill.

8. What is a controlled dumpsite?

As opposed to an open dump (where solid wastes are

indiscriminately thrown without due planning and
consideration for environmental and health standards – no
cover, located anywhere, no management), a controlled
dump is a disposal site at which solid waste is deposited in accordance with the
minimum prescribed standards of site operation to minimize possible adverse impacts
on the environment. A controlled dump is located in a site that is managed properly
(with covering, area is secured, etc.).

9. What is a Sanitary Landfill (SLF)?

An SLF is an engineered waste disposal facility, properly designed, constructed,

operated and maintained in a manner that poses the least environmental impacts.
Wastes are contained in a lined cell with provision of earth cover at the end of each
day of operation and final cover when the cell is filled A 2004-2005 EcoGov study of its
up. Proper leachate and gas management is also assisted LGUs suggests that the
provided in a sanitary landfill facility (for requirements volume of residual waste
and criteria for SLF, see Annex A, Handbook on the generated by a single LGU doeses
Ecological SWM Act of 2000 and its Implementing not warrant individual
Rules and Regulations in your media kit). investments in SLFs. It further
suggests that clustering of LGUs
10. What if LGUs did not have suitable disposal sites and having a central SLF where
or couldn’t afford to establish it own SLF? client LGUs pay a certain fee may
be the most viable option.
LGUs with no suitable sites for SLF may join a group
of LGUs where one member may host the facility. This is called “clustering” and is
allowed by law. Section 33 of the Local Government Code (RA 7160) mandates all
provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays to consolidate their efforts, services
and resources to address common SWM problems and/or establish common waste
disposal facilities. One example is Metro Tagbilaran where member-LGUs have
agreed to locate their common SLF at the municipality of Alburquerque.

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Agricultural waste – Poultry and livestock manure or residual materials in liquid and solid form
generated in the production and marketing of poultry, livestock, fur-bearing animals and their
products, rice straw, rice husks and other plant wastes.
Biodegradable – A substance that can be metabolized into simpler components through
decomposition usually by bacteria or microbes. Biodegradable wastes, usually of organic origins,
are said to be less harmful to the environment than non-biodegradable wastes like plastics and
Effluent – Any wastewater, partially or completely treated, or in its natural state, that flows out of a
manufacturing plant, industrial plant, or treatment plant.
Effluent limitation – An amount or concentration of a water pollutant that can be legally discharged
into a water body by a point source, expressed as the maximum daily discharge, the maximum
discharge per amount of product, and/or the concentration limit in the wastewater stream, as a 24-
hour or 30-day average.
Effluent standard – The maximum amount of specific pollutants allowable in wastewater discharged
by an industrial facility or wastewater treatment plant.
Hazardous substance – A material that may pose a danger to living organisms, materials, structures,
or the environment, by explosion or fire hazards, corrosion, toxicity to organisms, or other
detrimental effects.
Hazardous waste – Any waste that possesses chemical, physical, or biological characteristics that
have the potential to inflict damage on either human health or the natural environment. This
includes toxic waste, waste containing substances that have already proved hazardous by
poisoning humans or wildlife.
Leachate – The liquid, usually rainwater, that seeps through a landfill and is frequently contaminated
by materials dissolved from the waste in the landfill.
Non-point-source pollution – Pollutants emanating from an unconfined or unchannelled source,
including agricultural run-off, drainage or seepage and air contamination from landfills or surface
Organic farming – The production of crops and livestock by using low-impact agriculture methods like
using organic fertilizer, biological pest control, and crop rotation.
Point-source pollution – Any pollution from a confined and discrete conveyance such as a pipe,
ditch, channel, tunnel, well, fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal-feeding operation
or vessel or other floating craft.
Pollutant – A substance present in greater than natural concentration as a result of human activity
and having a net detrimental effect upon its environment or upon something of value in that
Run-off – Water which, having fallen, flows across the surface of the ground (or a landfill or other
accumulation of material), picking up materials such as soil, agricultural chemicals and other
transportable materials, continuing into a watercourse.
Sludge – Solid, semi-solid or liquid waste from municipal, commercial or industrial waste-treatment
facilities, wastewater treatment plants and air pollution control facilities. In discussions of
environmental controls, the mud-like residue that results from the cleaning process of scrubbers or
certain other devices designed to prevent solid particles from entering the environment.
Solid waste – Waste including, but not limited to, municipal, residual or hazardous waste, including
solid, liquid, semi-solid or contained gaseous materials.
Toxic waste – Waste that poses a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the
environment when improperly managed. It includes wastes that are poisonous, carcinogenic,
mutagenic, teratogenic, phytotoxic or toxic to aquatic species.
Water pollution – The introduction of substances that make water impure compared with undisturbed
water. Usually comes from soil erosion, and the introduction of poisonous chemicals from
industries and spills, domestic sewage or industrial and agricultural wastes.

These definitions were based on the Green Guide published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in 1998.

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