The Philippines is said to be the third largest generator of solid waste per year among Southeast Asian countries, with only Thailand and Indonesia producing more based on a 2018 data, according to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.
Gatchalian warned that the country is facing a serious garbage crisis that threatens to cause irreparable damage to ecosystems and harm to the health of Filipinos due to the poor implementation of the Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and lack of action from households and communities.
The senator said in his privilege speech on Tuesday, September 1, that the garbage crisis that was used to be felt only by local government units (LGUs) has now “grown into a national crisis that requires immediate concerted action from government and civil society.”
He noted that the 16.6 million metric tons of solid waste Filipinos are expected to produce by the end of this year is equivalent to 58.2 million cubic meters, which is enough trash to fill 23,279 Olympic-sized swimming pools or 99 Philippine Arenas in Bulacan.
Gatchalian also estimated that each Filipino will be producing five additional kilograms of solid waste per year, resulting in an overall increase of annual solid waste production of 20.51 million metric tons by 2030 – a 39.9 percent increase compared to the 2014 figure.
“This year, the average Filipino produces 0.414 kilograms of solid waste every day. That doesn’t sound like too much. Well, by Dec. 31, 2020, the accumulated daily solid waste produced by each Filipino will amount to 150 kilograms. That means that the average Filipino adult produces between two to three times his own body weight in trash over the course of a single year,” he said.
“It is clear that the implications of the garbage crisis are simply too grave for us to sit back and do nothing. We must take action now to end the garbage crisis before it degrades the environment and poisons the bodies of future generations of Filipinos,” the senator added.
In a Senate committee hearing on energy last January, the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) mentioned that only 30 percent of barangays actually segregate their collected waste properly, implying “the mismanagement” of solid waste.
Moreover, Gatchalian revealed that only 31 percent of barangays had access to materials recovery facilities (MRFs), which means only three out of 10 Filipino families live in barangays with proper waste segregation facilities.
Gatchalian said illegal open dumps in the Philippines outnumber sanitary landfills with the country having only 164 sanitary landfills and 404 illegal open dumps as of 2018. For the same year, only 22 percent of the 1,634 cities and municipalities nationwide could be accommodated by these sanitary landfills.
“Unless the capacity of waste that ends up in sanitary landfills is reduced and the number of solid waste management treatment facilities is increased, the remaining 60 percent of municipal solid waste will end up in our drainage system, streets, forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, seas and oceans. This will contaminate our water and our air. It will also make large stretches of land unusable for any other purpose after being used as a sanitary landfill, or worse, as an illegal dumpsite,” he pointed out.