Since the closure of its major landfill in the early 2000s, the Philippine Islands' capital city of Manila has grappled with the question of what to do with more than 8,600 tons of garbage that its 11.5 million residents generate each day. With nowhere else to dispose of their trash, many Manila residents began dumping it into the Pasig River. The problem prompted the nation's health officials to caution that water-borne diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis B and cholera are likely to spread in alarming proportions without mitigation.
Not only do Manila residents produce one-fourth of the Philippines' total garbage, they generate, on average, 130 percent more garbage per capita than residents of other countries, according to the nation's Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
In addition to contributing to water-borne illness, uncollected trash clogs Manila's waterways, causing regular flooding.
Roughly 50 percent of Manila's garbage is biodegradable food waste, while 17 percent is paper and 16 percent plastics. The remainder consists of rubber, ceramics, metal and leather.
While the country's leadership advocates recycling, many Manila residents say they are limited in their efforts by lack of space. Government officials are working directly with condominium and subdivision homeowners associations to recycle and to separate their garbage by type in order to hasten collection efforts.