MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) found that the Philippines' solid waste management program seemed to have not achieved its goal since its implementation 20 years ago.
The agency said it instead observed a "steady increase" in solid waste generation through the years.
To address the Philippines' solid waste problem, the country enacted in 2001 Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (ESWMA) of 2000.
But state auditors, in their April 2023 Performance Audit Report of the program, said the ESWMA "may not be seen as progressively achieving its goals and objectives, as manifested by the steadily increasing volume of generated solid waste, including the many gaps noted in the program implementation."
"Instead of reducing solid waste generation, it steadily increased through the years," it added.
It is projected that the annual solid waste production will increase from 16.63 million metric tons in 2020 to 19.76 million metric tons in 2030 and 24.50 million tons in 2045, according to COA.
The constant increase in solid waste creation could be attributed to the "frail enforcement and compliance with the law," the COA said, citing political, financial, and technical limitations of the local government units (LGUs) and implementing agencies.
The COA said it also identified the "inconsistent implementation" of waste segregation and waste diversion, which led to an increase in waste production, adding that a "significant" presence of mixed wastes had been found in landfills.
The condition, the COA reported, had reduced the capacity of the materials recovery facilities for diversion, "causing the waste volume in landfills to exceed capacity and shorten serviceable lifespans."
The COA found in its report that there insufficient waste facilities and
landfills to cater to the LGUs and barangays across the country
As of 2021, the country only had 11,637 total materials recovery facilities that served 16,418 — 39.05 percent — out of 42,046 barangays, auditors said.
Some 245 total operational sanitary landfills meanwhile only catered to 478 or 29.25 percent out of 1,634 LGUs.
"Due to the limitation in disposal facilities, the operation of the illegal
dumpsites could not be avoided in some LGUs," it said.
The COA, however, noted that the environment department had "successfully reduced" the number of illegal dumpsites. From 1,232 in 2009, they were reduced to zero in 2021.
But the COA's validation showed not all dumpsites were closed.
It found that LGUs had to "reopen or establish a new dumpsite due to a lack of capacity to construct their own [sanitary landfills]and/or lack of funds to enter into an agreement with an SLF operator and pay tipping fees."
"Further, climate change has also accelerated the need to find measures to reduce and manage the waste generated and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from open burning and biodegradable wastes in landfills or dumpsites."
DELAYS IN SWM PLANS
According to the COA, many LGUs have yet to comply with the requirements of the law such as establishing local solid waste management (SWM) boards, submission of SWM plans, and building of materials recovery facilities.
"We found delays in the preparation and approval of LGUs’ 10-yr SWM Plans, which affected the budgeting and implementation of LGU’s SWM activities," the COA noted.
"While LGUs strived to comply with the mandated waste diversion, results from available data showed that actual waste diversion is still far from targets."
The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), created under RA 9003, was told by the COA to conduct a massive information and education campaign about the Solid Waste Management Act.
The NSWMC should also ensure the operationalization of materials recovery facilities and the prohibition of open dumpsites or similar uncontrolled facilities.
The COA also ordered NSWMC to coordinate with concerned agencies on the establishment of the Solid Waste Management Fund, as well as the institutionalization of an environment and natural resources office in LGUs.