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Eating from the garbage dump in the Philippines

June 25, 2019

In the Philippines, food waste is on the rise. At the same time, many are forced to sift through the garbage dump to find something to eat. Some are trying to tackle the growing problem.

Person is ripping up garbage bag in order to get to thrown-away food
Image: DW

Food Waste in the Philippines

Project goal: The Sustainable Diner wants to reduce food waste in the gastronomy sector, raising awareness of sustainable consumption among businesses and consumers in the Philippines

Project implementation: Working with restaurants and hotels in three cities, Quezon, Tagaytay and Cebu, and encouraging them to introduce measures, including serving smaller portions, to waste less food

Partner institutions: WWF-Philippines, Climate Change Commission Philippines, Department of Tourism Philippines, supported by the German Environment Ministry within the framework of its International Climate Initiative (IKI)

More than 13 million Filipinos can't afford three square meals a day. Filipa Balde and her family are among them. Filipa feeds her family with "pagpag" — that's Tagalog for leftovers from garbage sites. The 67-year-old grandmother has had little alternative since her husband died.

In contrast, the growing middle class in the Philippines has food in abundance. In Manila alone, more than 2000 tons of comestibles end up in the garbage yearly. Much of it comes from restaurants. 

Projects like The Sustainable Diner are trying to raise awareness of the problem and its environmental impact, while the government is pushing businesses to donate surplus food to food banks to help people like Filipa.

A film by Gönna Ketels