The 3Rs and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries: Lessons from Implementation of Ecological Solid Waste Management in the Philippines

Discussion Paper
The 3Rs and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries: Lessons from Implementation of Ecological Solid Waste Management in the Philippines

About 30,000 tons of waste is generated daily in the Philippines, and this amount is likely to increase by 40% in the next decade if no interventions are provided (Aguinaldo, 2009). Varying approaches to manage waste include efforts to perform cleaner production, eco-efficiency or green productivity, and even sustainable consumption and production. Simple yet challenging ways have also been proposed such as the 3R Initiative by Former Japan Prime Minister Koizumi.

On a national scale, the passage of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (ESWMA) assigned the responsibility of managing waste to the local government units while the national agency keeps track of implementation. Although this offers the advantage of an individualized waste management program founded on the context of a city or community, progress has been slow especially given the lack of financial and technical support from the national government. Nearly a decade after the ratification of the law, about 13% of the local units met the provisions. On the upside, external funding, and nongovernment organization, private and public entities and informal waste sector involvement prove to be important catalysts in realizing waste management initiatives particularly in terms of waste diversion and recycling.

This report investigates the potential decent employment and issues arising from undertaking closed-loop reduce-reuse-recycling activities or 3R-related activities in the Philippines in general. Four local cases on solid waste management and 3R implementation in this paper illustrate basic responses of the local governments to waste management in their area. These projects are limited to regular collection of recyclables by eco-aides in every household alongside the establishment of a material recovery facility, information campaigns on waste segregation, 3Rs, utilization of biodegradables and enhancing collection of recyclables, and promoting reusing and recycling in the industry. Financial constraints appear to be a limiting factor in the sustenance of these initiatives. Hence, economic benefits have to be equally emphasized in these undertakings in addition to apparent environmental and social gains. Some instances also demonstrate the need to strengthen local capacity to adequately plan waste management measures. Based on these cases, suggestions were drawn on how to implement the 3Rs in support of green business, employment and poverty reduction. Instrumental support systems and the role of stakeholders were also identified in the analysis based on cases and the drafted national framework on informal sector.

This report is based on survey and research conducted under the Asia Resource Circulation Research Policy Project (Ajia Shigen Junkan Kenkyu) in FY 2009; a joint international research project of the researchers from eight research institutes: Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), Chinese Academy of Science (China), De La Salle University (the Philippines), Hanoi University of Technology (Viet Nam), Institute of Development Economies/JETRO (Japan), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Japan), Malaya University (Malaysia), and Taiwan National University (Taiwan), and funded by Ministry of the Environment of Japan.

Chiu, Anthony SF.