September 12, 2019 / 2:22 PM / 5 days ago

Filipino villagers swap trash for rice in fight against plastics

MANILA (Reuters) - A village in the Philippines is trying to tackle the scourge of plastic waste by offering rice to residents in exchange for their trash.

Residents of Bayanan outside the capital, Manila, can get one kg (2.2 lb) of rice, the staple food for Filipinos, for every two kg of plastic waste, which are handed over to the government for proper disposal or recycling.

The Southeast Asian nation is among the world’s top marine plastic polluters, studies show, with laws on solid waste poorly enforced and no regulations on packaging manufacturing.

“I weighed in at 14 kilos of residuals, so I got 7 kilos of rice grains. This is a big help for us to have one kilo of rice for the day,” Veronica Dolorico, a 49-year-old supporter of the programme, told Reuters.

“I feel that our surroundings are really dirty. If only I could, I would pick up all the plastics along the road when I walk outside,” she added.

One kg of rice costs about 30-40 pesos ($0.70), which is costly in a country with a fast-growing economy, but high rates of urban and rural poverty.

One-fifth of the population of 107 million people live below the national poverty line, with monthly consumption of less than $241 per person.

Bayanan collected more than 213 kg of sachets, bottles and plastic bags in August, said village chief Andor San Pedro, adding the food-for-trash swap is teaching people how to properly dispose of their waste.

Reporting by Ronn Bautista; Writing by Neil Jerome Morales; editing by Darren Schuettler

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