Landfill an increasing problem in the Philippines

In the Payatas landfills of Manila, Philippines, it is not unusual to see about 500 trucks filled with waste every day. What is a more common site are the scavenger groups that wait for these trucks, and attempt to recover whatever it is that is worth recycling. While this reality is true in many dumpsites across the Philippines, these groups in Payatas have earned a reputation for being the models of how to recycle right.

Payatas is without question one of the poorest areas in the nation’s capital, with about 40 percent of its residents either earning less than $100 dollars a month or downright unemployed. However, there is something to be said about the way the area has integrated its residents into the waste management system of the entire city.

After a disastrous landslide in the year 2000, owners of junk shops as well as scavengers got together. Programs that taught them how to take whatever it was they collected, and use these materials to improve their living conditions were carried out.

The result is a 3,000 scavenger strong facility that is formally known as the Payatas Alliance Recycling Exchange. There are 2 official shifts in the day, and whatever the center earns is evenly split by all of its members. When there were gangs and violence before, now there is organization and peace.

Quezon City has benefited from the various waste management programs it has put up. Among them is the said Payatas programme which has allowed the municipality to save millions of pesos, as well as recycle about 40% of its household waste. Not only that, the different waste management movements have allowed residents from the Payatas to no longer be part of the grey economy. Through the program, Payatas eco aides enjoy more bargaining power. IDs, as well as uniforms have boosted these former scavengers’ standing in society.