A Comparative Study on the Solid Waste Management System of Cebu City and Taiwan

By: Jademarie Lloyd F. Tio, Grade 12

The increasing economic development of the Philippines has given birth to a large scale waste problem. In developing countries across the world, solid waste management has proved to be a struggle due to the cost of operations, large scale waste dumping, and poor cooperation between the city and the citizens. The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) explains the relationshipbetween economic development and levels of environmental degradation. The EKC suggests that economic development initially leads to deterioration in the environment but after a certain level of economic growth, the rate of environmental degradation will be reduced. This, however, may not be applicable to all communities or countries because the improvement of the waste management system is highly dependent on the governing body, concerned organizations, and the general public. Cooperation and proper implementation is needed to reap the full benefit.

Cebu City, Philippines, is a fast-growing and highly urbanized area in Central Visayas. It is considered one of the most progressive cities outside of Metro Manila. As of 2001, the waste discharge amount of the city is 511 tons per day, 57% of which is residential and the rest, non-residential wastes. The waste collection rate is 80%.The waste discharge amount is estimated at 0.7 kg/person/day, according to the Kitakyushu Initiative (2002). As of early 2016, Cebu City faced major garbage problems which were brought about by the closing of the lnayawan Landfill, which was almost nine years overdue.

Like every other growing urban city, Cebu City, also faces problems with the management of wastes. The biggest problems the city face are the inefficiency of garbage collection due to the lack of garbage vehicles, as well as little to no segregation and recycling. Cebu also has insufficient sanitary landfills to place the garbage. The incinerators which are located at the existing landfills cannot be used due to conflict between environmental groups and due to the fact that the use of incinerators is prohibited by the Clean Air Act of the Philippines. Ordinances related to garbage collection, reduction, and segregation already exist, but lack the implementation needed for the laws to become fully effective.

The chosen country of comparison is Taiwan. The country has a dynamic capitalist economy that is driven largely by industrial manufacturing, and especially exports of electronics, machinery, and petrochemicals. Taiwan has limited space to bury its garbage, so recycling is critical. The island recycled about 58 percent of its household waste in 2016, up from 55 percent the year before, according to the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). The researcher chose Taiwan to be the country of comparison because Taiwan was once a country dominated by waste. In 1993, Taiwan had a collection rate for trash of just 70 percent. That meant 30 percent of Taiwan’s waste entered the environment either through littering or burning. People were fed up and demanded change. In just 20 years, Taiwan transitioned from an island on the brink of a waste apocalypse to a global leader in recycling.

The researcher is a firsthand observer of the growth of the trash problem in Cebu City. She observed that on the sidewalks along the road, and in small alleyways there are large amounts of uncollected garbage. The uncollected garbage, which is usually swarmed with foragers, could pose a threat to the health of the foragers and to the households near the trash mounds. Uncollected and mismanaged waste can also lead to flooding caused by the clogging of drainage systems. With this in mind, the researcher decided to pursue this research in order to give the citizens of Cebu City a better and cleaner lifestyle that is beneficial to all.

By identifying Taiwan’s best practices and comparing it with Cebu’s own waste management practices, Cebu will be able to adopt a better system of solid waste management. The researcher would like to look into Taiwan’s practices and find the best and most applicable one for Cebu. Upon finding the best practices, the researcher will determine the best way to implement the solid waste management strategies in the local level. This research aims to improve and give suggestions to the waste management systems in Cebu.

The researcher believes that a sustainable, efficient and effective solid waste management system is essential in the development of the country in terms of economy and lifestyle. A cleaner and better looking environment could lead to an increase in productivity among citizens. The residents of Cebu will feel as though there is real development in the society and will thus work harder in order to catch up with this development. The development and enactment of this solid waste management system relies heavily on the cooperation of the citizens and the local government. In order to have a better understanding towards solid waste management systems and its benefits, the researcher would like to look into more strategies and studies based in neighboring Southeast Asian countries like Taiwan, in order to benchmark some strategies to come up with a better, localized and more realistic study personalized for the Philippines.


Based on the summary of findings, the most practical and sustainable practices of Taiwan that Cebu can implement are the restrictions on the use of plastic shopping bags and disposable tableware, the “Per-Bag Trash Collection Fee”, the “Three-in-One Resource Recovery Scheme”, and the “Keep Trash Off the Ground” policy. The province of Cebu will benefit highly in the construction of a compost plant that will convert kitchen waste and fecal sludge into fertilizer or compost. The researcher believes that Cebu will also benefit from building incinerators and recycling plants. The construction of a waste-to-energy plant in Cebu is largely seen as a beneficial project especially since the closure of the lnayawan landfill. An additional landfill should also be opened in a government-owned lot that is a reasonable distance away from residential and business areas in the city. For the treatment and rehabilitation of the closed lnayawan landfill, bioremediation could be a possible method for removing pollutants in the soil through the use of microorganisms. The local government should look into a restriction on packaging and products, only recognizing and allowing a majority of products on the market to be made with low-impact materials. To promote recycling, a market which is centered on the procurement of recycled goods and materials should be introduced to the community. If these policies and schemes are to be implemented in Cebu, the government should hold informative seminars and sessions with barangay heads, business officials, companies, and other organizations.


Modern solid waste management systems should be holistic, with all systems working together. A new, efficient, sustainable and effective solid waste management system is greatly needed in Cebu City. As population increases, so does the volume of waste. In the absence of a working landfill, the government along with the private sector should quickly think of an adequate solution to the issue. The researcher hopes that the information in this research paper will be beneficial to those decision makers in creating an ideal solid waste management system in Cebu.

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