• In recent years, new technologies and initiatives have attempted to address one of humanity’s worst contributions to this planet: trash.
  • But for the City of San Fernando, north of Manila in the Philippines, addressing the problem goes beyond the latest innovation to hit the market.
  • Between 2012 and 2018, the city increased the percentage of trash diverted from landfills from 12 to 80%, a feat many local governments can only dream about.
  • Instead of going to dumpsites or, worse, into waterways, most of the waste collected in the city now becomes compost or is sold for recycling. But becoming an almost litter-free city was a long process
  • A 2018 World Bank report revealed that nearly two billion tonnes of solid waste was generated worldwide in 2016 – a number that could increase to 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050, damaging mostly developing countries.
  • In low-income countries, over 90 percent of waste is often disposed in unregulated dumps or openly burned. These practices create serious health, safety, and environmental consequences.
  • The Philippines, one of the biggest contributors of plastic pollution in the oceans, produced over 14 million tonnes of waste in 2016. Only 28 percent was recycled.
  • Almost two decades since the country passed the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which required the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRF) in every village across the country, full compliance has yet to be achieved.
  • The MRFs were supposed to receive mixed waste for sorting, segregation, composting and recycling, with the residual waste transferred to a long-term storage, disposal facility or sanitary landfill.
  • In 2012, the local government of San Fernando tapped the MEF to implement a zero-waste strategy in the city. It was a long and grueling effort.
  • Across the city, solid waste unceremoniously dumped in the streets was a common sight, recalls Rodriguez, saying that at the time, many thought it was impossible to solve.
  • Now, all households follow segregation policies and separate waste into three types: biodegradable, recyclable and residual. Some even have their own compost pits.