Human Resource and Institution Development Division (HRIDD)
A. ENVIRONMENT SECTOR
3. Innovative Solutions to Solid Waste Management
alternative technologies (i.e., construction materials like hollow blocks, eco-bricks, lumber, roads) and energy recovery (RDF, Fuel, Electricity) for residual wastes; hazardous wastes management at City/Municipal Centers (DENR), medical waste management program (DOH) then treated and bulky waste management proper SLF disposal for special wastes.
Alongside, PCIEERD has been contributing for this endeavor and recently in coordination with other government agencies, provided technological interventions through the deployment of appropriate technologies during the rejuvenation of Boracay. Another workshop was also held to identify possible technological solutions to address solid waste problems, particularly in coastal areas on combating marine debris in the ASEAN Region. In connection, as Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), PCIEERD signified in joining the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, particularly the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025 on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Biodiversity and Natural Resources, which reaffirmed the commitment of strategic measures to “promote cooperation for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine environment, respond and deal with the risk of pollution and threats to marine ecosystem and coastal environment, in particular in respect of ecologically sensitive areas”.
However, despite the efforts and 21 years after RA 9003 was passed into law, solid waste management remains a major problem in the country especially in urban areas like megacities (e.g., Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao). In 2015, a report was published by Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, where the Philippines was ranked 3rd as the biggest source of plastics leaking into the oceans; China emerged as the top contributor, with an estimated 1.32-3.53 MMT going into the sea, out of a total 8.82 MMT mismanaged plastic waste a year. Indonesia is next, with an estimated 0.48-1.29 MMT of plastic marine waste annually, followed by the Philippines, with around 0.28-0.75 MMT of plastic waste. Studies explained that people on the limited incomes in the Philippines like most developing countries are pushed to buy cheap goods in small quantities, this practice is dubbed as “sachet economies”.
Single-use plastics from products sold by conglomerates, such as bags, bottle labels, and straws end up not being recycled and worst, sometimes end up mismanaged. Every year, our country contributes 1.88 million tons of "mismanaged plastic waste". Majority of the mismanaged plastic wastes are made of Polypropylene or PP. It is a heat-resistant plastic commonly used in food and beverage packaging. When it is dumped in the sea, over time it breaks down into small plastic particles or “microplastics”. They can be divided into two main categories according to their source: (1) primary - directly released in the environment as small particles and accounts to 15- 31% microplastics found in the oceans and (2) secondary - originate from degradation of larger plastic objects such as plastic bags, bottles or fishing nets and accounts to 69-81% microplastics found in the oceans. Those smaller than five millimeters may settle on sea algae and can be consumed by small fishes. A study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin entitled “Microplastics in marine sediments and rabbitfish (Siganus fuscescens) from selected coastal areas of Negros Oriental, Philippines” analyzed 120 rabbitfish (Siganid fuscescens) bought from local fishermen in the cities of Dumaguete and Bais and in the towns of Manjuyod and Ayungon, all part of the Tañon Strait protected seascape, a major fishing area in the province of Negros Oriental. The study found that nearly half of the fish samples had microplastics present in their digestive systems. Therefore confirming, that microplastics have been introduced into human food chain. The impact of ingesting microplastics has yet to be determined.
Provided the study results, data and the current situation where every household is generating infectious wastes e.g., facemasks while online shopping is being highly practiced resulting to the influx in the volume of single-used plastics, it can be inferred that significantly, there is a
predominant need for innovative, affordable and or compact technology solutions for solid waste management.
In the recently conducted FGD, gaps and challenges on solid waste management in the country has been identified: a.) No baseline data (local context) b.) Low uptake of existing studies (e.g.
Life Cycle Assessment on carrying bag commissioned by ITDD) c.) Difficulty in determining alternatives d.) Lack of verification/safeguard/background check system for facilities that is not through endorsement e.) Redundancy of activities across sector covering the same sectors of waste f.) Need for National Action Plan on Waste to Energy (WTE) and lastly g.) Development of plastic biodegradability Laboratory.
Therefore, this call requires the proposals to address the key gaps and to incorporate the socio- cultural, political, health and economic implications of managing pollution while providing scientific data that will support and lead to formulations of policies. Furthermore, the proposals should be a collaborative research and with partner institutions clearly expressing commitment of support in a form of a letter specially the end-user institutions to ensure implementation even after the conduct duration of the will be project. If technologies are to be developed it must be sustainable and is for long-term function. Lastly, the proposal must have objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound to address the recuring problems of the country in solid waste management.
The objective of this call is to support the inter-disciplinary research to understand the risks that plastic pollution poses and provide technological interventions. The following are the identified priority areas of R&D under this sub-sector:
Priority Areas of R&D Budgetary Requirement
Development of alternative materials to plastic-based
packaging and products under Non-Environmentally Accepted Products (NEAP) & Packaging (e.g., plastic stirrers/coffee cups)
Development of Technologies for Upcycling/ Recycling of plastics/Co-processing
Appropriate technologies for the detection, measurement and treatment of microplastics and other marine litter
Establishment of a facility for biodegradability testing of plastics 30M 2023- 2025 Development and promulgation of resource recovery plan for
the plastic wastes generated from the consumer’s shift to online shopping strategic waste management program for
household infectious wastes and hospital-use plastic-based medical and healthcare materials in Pandemic
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of single-use plastics with technological interventions