Waste Disposal Problems in the Philippines

Waste Disposal Problems in the Philippines, like many other fast-developing countries, have been hinged on unsustainable plastic manufacturing and use, as well as inadequate solid waste management infrastructure.

Every year, the Philippines generates an astounding 2.7 million tons of plastic garbage, with an estimated 20% of it ending up in the ocean according to the world bank.

Improper waste disposal is one of the biggest environmental issues here in the Philippines. It caused bigger problems that affect not only the environment but also the health and life of the people. This problem may be resolved or it will remain a problem to the country in the next few years”.

A law in the Philippines approved by the Office of the President on January 26, 2001, was created in response to the rapidly growing rate of garbage problems in the country caused by improper waste disposal.

Unfortunately, even though there is a law, improper waste disposal in the Philippines was ranked 3rd as the top source of water contamination in a study in February 2015.

Waste disposal is different from waste management. Proper waste disposal is needed to properly execute waste management. Without properly executing waste disposal, difficulty in waste management also emerge. It is also proven that human activities and lack of discipline are the main reason for improper waste disposal that makes the problem difficult to resolve.

An inefficient municipal solid waste management system may create serious negative environmental impacts like infectious diseases, land and water pollution, obstruction of drains, and loss of biodiversity.

Improper hazardous waste disposal doesn’t just contaminate soil and the local water supply, but it can also pollute the air. An area with a reputation for a toxic environment can also be susceptible to lower property values, so not following proper disposal procedures can even affect the cost of houses’ properties.

Long-term execution of improper waste disposal of municipal wastes can affect soil and water properties and productivity. It also produces lethal gases such as carbon monoxide and methane gas.

Disposal of refuse without proper supervision often amounts to damage to the environment and ultimately to the human body system.

Excessive bleeding of rodents and vermin like rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and flies are the direct health effects caused by improper disposal as those vermin transmit diseases like leptospirosis, Lassa fever, salmonellosis from rats; malaria from mosquitoes, shigellosis and diarrheal diseases from flies.

Indirect health effects, on the other hand, include the contamination of water and soil from leachate – a very harmful liquid mixture of chemicals that forms as water flows from a contaminated area.

Humans are not the only ones who are affected but also animals. As water can be contaminated; marine life is also in danger. When wastes cluster and form algal bloom, it can suffocate and contaminate everything near it – may it be a habitat that includes corals or an organism like fishes, mollusks, etc.

Causes of Improper Waste Disposal in the Philippines

Waste disposal problems in the Philippines can be caused by a variety of factors, they include

  • Lack of Public Awareness
  • Laziness
  • Greed
  • Refusal to Learn About Compliance
  • Inadequate Waste Management Investment
  • Inadequate Machinery
  • Too Much Waste
  • Hazardous/Toxic Waste
  • Some “green” technologies are not truly green 
  • Too many Single-Use Plastics

1. Lack of Public Awareness

Lack of public awareness is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Lack of public awareness, or more particularly, lack of understanding within enterprises and poor attitudes, is one of the first causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines.

When something has reached the end of its useful life, it is frequently disposed of carelessly. In the Philippines, many people are negligent of the dangers of improper waste disposal or even ways they can dispose of their waste properly.

2. Laziness

Laziness is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Laziness is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. laziness can lead to inappropriate waste disposal since people who do not follow the proper waste disposal guidelines always discard it wherever they please with no regard for the consequences.

3. Greed

Greed is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Greed can lead to incorrect waste disposals, such as burning tires and plastic wheels instead of retaining them or trading excess automotive tires to maximize profits.

4. Refusal to Learn About Compliance

Refusal to learn about compliance is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. It is the responsibility of businesses to follow all waste management rules and regulations. When transferring waste to a registered waste carrier, for example, you must produce and fill out a waste transfer note.

That is just one of the current regulations, which have also evolved. Failure to comply with the law or a lack of information about it can result in significant penalties or even jail time for those who are accountable. As a result, you must spend the time necessary to educate yourself and your coworkers about waste management requirements.

5. Inadequate Waste Management Investment

Inadequate waste management investment is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. In the Philippines, there has been inadequate waste management investment. Since no correct environmental or legal regulations, illegal waste sites or fly-tipping is less expensive than authorized waste disposal.

Illegal waste techniques may save money in the short term, but the penalties are never worth it. They also mean you won’t be able to take advantage of the potential revenue streams that come with good waste management.

6. Inadequate Machinery

Inadequate machinery is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. This can be a significant problem for businesses. It might be difficult to adopt a fully efficient waste management strategy if there is a lack of waste management technology, such as balers and compactors.

Machines, for example, can provide:

  • A reduction in waste volume, allowing for easier transportation and storage.
  • Improved operational efficiency by serving as a designated waste disposal location.
  • Improved hygiene and safety by providing enclosed chambers for waste while it is baled or compacted.

Businesses can be left badly handling the waste disposal without machinery, which is an effective way of disposing of waste. These could include many excursions to the landfill (and the associated fees) or even flytipping.

Waste management systems are cost-effective investments for businesses, but how do they appear in practice? Investigating real-world business cases and deployments is the greatest method to learn more about what our solutions have to offer in terms of efficiency and safety. If you’re interested, our guide will show you how to improve your waste management tactics.

7. Too Much Waste

(Source: Too Much Waste, Too Little Investment – Medium)

Too much waste is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. We generate an excessive amount of rubbish. Companies that produce one-time products that do not value reuse, recycling, or using environmentally friendly materials are also a big part of the problem.

8. Hazardous/Toxic Waste

Hazardous/toxic waste is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. When it comes to harmful substance regulation, most state, and municipal governments are fairly lax. Many of the products in your home include hazardous chemicals, and regrettably, many of us use a variety of toxic products regularly, such as solvent-based paints, Pesticides, and other garden pesticides, Batteries, and Cleaning, and polishing chemicals. They are frequently disposed of incorrectly, posing a risk to our health and the environment.

9. Some “green” technologies are not truly green 

The fact that some “green” technologies are not truly green is one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Some recycling methods are regarded as “green.” When you check into it, though, you’ll find that they aren’t very long-lasting. Gasification pyrolysis and plasma incineration are examples of these technologies. Toxic compounds are released into the environment when the waste is burned, so it isn’t the ideal waste disposal option.

10. Too many Single-Use Plastics

(Source: Sciencing – The Effects of Solid Waste Disposal)

Too many single-use plastics are one of the causes of waste disposal problems in the Philippines. As startling as it may seem, single-use packaging is responsible for ~40% of all plastic waste. Single-use plastics can be replaced with more environmentally friendly alternatives. However, they can still be found EVERYWHERE for some reason.

The fact that regulations are being rolled over and many states/countries are finally banning certain single-use plastics is a positive indication. Unfortunately, this does not miraculously remove all of the previously collected single-use plastics. The largest bulk of plastic waste (40 percent) ends up in landfills, where it decomposes slowly over many years.

According to the world bank, the plastics industry is not only vital to the national economy (contributing US$2.3 billion in 2018), but plastics also provide low-cost consumer goods to poor and middle-income families in the Philippines.

Waste disposal problems in the Philippines

The following are the waste disposal problems in the Philippines

  • Waste Generation.
  • Waste Sources.
  • Waste Composition.
  • Current Solid Waste Management Collection.
  • Collected Waste Leaking into the Oceans
  • Waste Disposal.
  • Diversion and Recovery.

1. Waste Generation.

Waste generation is one of the major waste disposal problems in the Philippines and this continues to rise with the increase in population, improvement of living standards, rapid economic growth, and industrialization, especially in the urban areas.

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) calculated that from 37,427.46 tons per day in 2012, the country’s waste generation steadily increased to 40,087.45 tons in 2016 with an estimated average per capita waste generation of 0.40 kilograms per day for both urban and rural.

The National Capital Region (NCR), as expected, generated the biggest volume of waste over the past five years due to its population size, a bigger number of establishments, and modernized lifestyle. With an estimated population of 12 million people, Metropolitan Manila generated 9,212.92 tons per day of waste in 2016.

It is followed by Region 4A with the waste generation of 4,440.15 tons per day (11.08%) and Region 3 with 3,890.12 tons per day (9.70 %) (NSWC).

The World Bank (2012), on the other hand, estimates that solid waste being produced by Philippine cities will go up by 165 percent to 77,776 tons per day from 29,315 tons as a consequence of a projected 47.3-percent hike in urban population by 2025 and a projected doubling of municipal solid waste (MSW) generation per capita at 0.9 kilograms per day by 2025 from the current 0.5 kilograms, presenting a direct correlation between the per capita level of income in cities and the amount of waste per capita that is generated.

This also indicates that the Philippines is at the low end of waste generation in the region and among countries in its income bracket.

2. Waste Sources.

Waste sources are one of the major waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Solid wastes are generated from residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional sources. Residential wastes account for more than half (57%) of the total solid wastes (e.g. kitchen scraps, yard waste, paper and cardboard, glass bottles, etc.)

Wastes from commercial sources, which include commercial establishments and public/private markets, account for 27 percent. Wastes from institutional sources such as government offices, and educational and medical institutions account for about 12 percent while the remaining 4 percent is waste coming from the industrial or manufacturing sector (NSWMC).

3. Waste Composition.

Waste composition is one of the major waste disposal problems in the Philippines. The country’s solid wastes typically contain more organic components than other materials.

According to NSWMC, disposed waste is dominated by biodegradable waste with 52 percent, followed by recyclable waste which accounts for 28 percent, and residuals at 18 percent. Biodegradable wastes come mostly from food waste and yard waste while recyclable wastes include plastic packaging wastes, metals, glass, textile, leather, and rubber.

The significant shares of biodegradables and recyclables indicate that composting and recycling have great potential to reduce solid wastes.

4. Current Solid Waste Management Collection.

Current solid waste management collection is one of the major waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Under RA 9003, collection, transport, and disposal of solid wastes are the responsibilities of the local government units (LGUs).

At present, most LGUs administer their collection systems or contract out this service to private contractors. In Metro Manila, the common types of collection vehicles are open dump trucks and compactor trucks.

(Source: Ditch NIMBY to Fix Philippines’ Municipal Solid Waste Problem)

Nationwide, about 40 to 85 percent of the solid waste generated is collected while in Metro Manila it is 85 percent. The poorer areas of cities, municipalities and rural barangays are typically unserved or under-served.

The uncollected waste ends up mostly in rivers, esters, and other water bodies, thus, polluting major water bodies and clogging the drainage systems, which results in flooding during heavy rains (NSWMC).

It is interesting to note, however, that the 85 percent collection rate of Metro Manila is above the average collection rate of other countries in the Philippines’ income bracket (around 69%) and among East Asia and Pacific countries (around 72%).

5. Collected Waste Leaking into the Oceans

Collected waste leaking into the oceans is one of the significant waste disposal problems in the Philippines. According to a 2018 report by WWF,  up to 74 percent of the plastic in the Philippines that ends up in the ocean is from waste that has already been collected.

The report said that 386,000 tons of waste are leaked into the ocean every year because of hauler dumping—where private hauler companies unload their trucks into water bodies on the way to proper disposal sites to cut costs—and because poorly located dumps situated near waterways.

The low recycling rate of low-value plastic material contributes to the marine litter problem, Constantino added.

“In the Philippines, recycling is focused on high-value plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that is readily available in junk shops, but there is very limited infrastructure for the recycling of low-value plastics like single-use sachets, which usually ends up in landfill,” she told Eco-Business.

(Source: Philippines plastic pollution (why so much waste ends up in oceans) – South China Morning Post)

Single-use sachets—typically made of fossil fuel-based chemicals that are meant to be disposed of right after use—have been a mainstay in low-income households in the country, where tingi-tingi, or a retail culture, is prevalent.

Not all consumers can afford to buy products in bulk, and sachets allow them to purchase items such as coffee, shampoo, and detergents in small amounts.

The shortage of recycling facilities in the country is due to a lack of space to install them in congested areas, said Constantino. Apart from the actual recycling plant, the local waste management system also requires a materials recovery facility, which is a specialized plant that segregates recycling materials and prepares them for marketing to end-user manufacturers.

Cities also struggle with a lack of funding for recycling infrastructure, although the government has started to push for cluster sanitary landfills, where local government units may share financial resources to establish sanitary landfills. There are currently only five recycling companies in the Philippines, but solid waste generation has steadily increased from 37,427 tonnes per day in 2012 to 40,087 tonnes in 2016.

6. Waste Disposal.

different waste disposal methods used currently in the Philippines are one of the major waste disposal problems in the Philippines. Open dumping remains the general practice of waste disposal in the country as controlled dumpsites and sanitary landfills (SLFs) are very limited (NSWC). RA 9003 requires LGUs to close their existing open dumpsites by the year 2006 and to establish controlled disposal facilities or SLFs.

As of 2016, there are still 403 open dumpsites and 108 controlled dumpsites in operation. The number of SLFs is also insufficient to service all LGUs. While SLFs increased from 48 in 2010 to 118 in 2016, LGUs with access to SLFs remain below 15 percent.

It is interesting to note that the DENR is now pushing for the establishment of cluster sanitary landfills or common sanitary landfills in the country to address waste disposal problems.

Through cluster sanitary landfills, local government units (LGUs) may share funds in establishing sanitary landfills and consolidate efforts on solid waste management efforts. Through cost-sharing, LGUs can save financial resources and services.

Section 13 of the Philippine Constitution provides that LGUs may group themselves, consolidate or coordinate their efforts, services, and resources for purposes commonly beneficial to them by law.

7. Diversion and Recovery.

The different diversion and recovery methods applied are one of the major waste disposal problems in the Philippines. As of 2015, the solid waste diversion rate in Metro Manila is 48 percent while outside Metro Manila the rate is 46 percent. RA 9003 requires at least 25 percent of all solid wastes from waste-disposal facilities to be diverted or recovered through reuse, recycling, composting, and other resource-recovery activities.

LGUs are also mandated to put up or establish several waste facilities such as materials-recovery facilities (MRFs) for processing recyclable and biodegradable waste. As of 2016, about 9,883 MRFs are in operation in the country serving 13,155 barangays (31.3% of the 42,000 barangays in the country).

The NSWMC claims that LGUs are in the right direction in compliance with waste reduction programs being implemented in their respective jurisdictions.


For the waste disposal problems in the Philippines to be handled appropriately, there should be inclusive participation by all stakeholders of the environment including the residents, private and public businesses and companies, and the government. An enlightenment revolution to individuals even on the streets should be carried out so that people would know the ways they contribute to waste disposal in the Philippines and the effects on them.


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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