Managing Market Waste for Use in Urban Gardening in Metro Manila

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In a world grappling with the consequences of climate change and rapid urbanization, the Philippines has been facing an escalating challenge in ecological waste management. In the year 2000, this critical issue prompted the Philippine government to introduce the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003) to address the mounting waste crisis and reshape the nation’s approach to waste collection, disposal, diversion, and recovery. As a testament to the urgency of this problem, national statistics indicate that a significant portion of waste generation in the Philippines originates from households and local markets. In response, CGIAR’s Resilient Cities initiative selected the market sector as a target for its efforts to transform the waste landscape.

In the bustling food markets of the Philippines, waste generation primarily consists of biodegradable and seemingly “recyclable” materials. The presence of biodegradable and recyclable waste in these markets represents a golden opportunity to divert these materials from conventional landfill disposal, which is both environmentally harmful and unsustainable. This, in turn, could significantly reduce the overall burden on landfills and lower the ecological footprint of the nation.

The CGIAR Resilient Cities initiative recognized the gravity of the ecological waste management problem and undertook a comprehensive assessment of cities in Metro Manila. After a meticulous evaluation, Quezon City and Pasay City were chosen as case studies, laying the foundation for a transformative initiative. Through a series of focus group discussions, interviews, data exchange, and field visits, the initiative sought to shed light on the current state of waste management initiatives in two prominent markets: Kamuning Market in Quezon City and Pasay Public Market in Pasay City.

Kamuning Market and Pasay Public Market have embarked on composting initiatives to harness the potential of their biodegradable waste. These initiatives are not just about waste management but are also intertwined with local urban farming and school gardening programs, a testament to the holistic approach to resource utilization. Kamuning Market, for instance, has managed to divert approximately 44% of its total waste through composting, effectively halving the demand for garbage trucks in the area. In Pasay Public Market, while the compost bookkeeping may be more informal, city-level waste statistics hint at the possibility of diverting 37% of the market’s waste. However, interviews with market workers in Pasay unveiled an obstacle: the availability of sawdust inputs for their composting process frequently limits the operation, thus reducing the overall waste diversion rate.

The two cities employ different composting machines with distinct technical characteristics, including operation time, labor inputs, and load capacities. Additionally, the organizational structures surrounding the composting activities in these markets differ. Kamuning Market’s composting initiatives are seamlessly integrated into a larger city-wide Zero-Waste initiative, fostering strong partnerships with various stakeholders, such as the Joy of Urban Farming, Kamuning Market administration, and Quezon City MDAD. In contrast, Pasay Public Market’s composting efforts are less streamlined, illustrating the importance of organizational coherence.

Beyond explicit composting, these initiatives underscore the significance of waste segregation training and awareness campaigns. These elements play a pivotal role in enhancing local market activity and promoting more fluid collaboration among various stakeholders. In the context of the Resilient Cities and WP2 initiative, a broader perspective emerges, emphasizing the crucial importance of inter-agency and inter-agent coordination. This coordination is essential to promote both vertical and horizontal knowledge sharing among various actors in the waste management landscape. The composting initiatives in Quezon City and Pasay City exemplify strategies at the market level that not only diminish the volume of waste sent to landfills but also stimulate local agricultural activities, embracing the principles of circularity.

Article written by: Hannah Graham- Student Intern (CGIAR Resilient Cities Initiative)

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