Filipino villagers swap trash for rice in fight against plastics

Food-for-trash swap is teaching people how to properly dispose of their waste. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019
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Filipino villagers swap trash for rice in fight against plastics

  • Residents can get one kg (2.2 lb) of rice, the staple food for Filipinos, for every two kg of plastic waste
  • The Southeast Asian nation is among the world’s top marine plastic polluters

MANILA: 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 program, 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.


Popular panda on loan from China dies in Thai zoo

Updated 45 min 51 sec ago
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Popular panda on loan from China dies in Thai zoo

  • Staff said Tuesday they found no sign of illness or injury on the 19-year-old panda’s body
  • A zoo veterinarian said pandas have a life expectancy of 14-20 years

BANGKOK: Zoo staff in northern Thailand have donned black and white clothing and observed a minute of silence to mourn the sudden death of their popular male giant panda, who was on a long-term loan from China.

Officials said Chuang Chuang collapsed Monday in his enclosure at the Chiang Mai Zoo shortly after standing up following a meal of bamboo leaves.

Staff said Tuesday they found no sign of illness or injury on the 19-year-old panda’s body, and that he had recently passed a health checkup.

A zoo veterinarian said pandas have a life expectancy of 14-20 years. Chuang Chuang and his female mate arrived in Chiang Mai in 2003 on a 10-year loan that was later extended for another 10 years.