photo by ironchefbalara (Flickr Creative Commons)

The Payatas garbage dump in Quezon City, Philippines is legendary among dumpsites of the world, for its sheer size and also for the desperate living conditions of the many people who subsist by scavenging there.

Payatas made headlines 10 years ago when hundreds of informal settlers perished under a mountain of trash that collapsed during a downpour, burying them alive.

Recently, increased attention has been focused on the Payatas dump, the environmental role of its scavengers – or rather, ‘waste recyclers’ – and an innovative project to convert the waste to energy by harvesting methane. The methane project provides an alternative power source as well as limits greenhouse gases, providing the Philippines with carbon credits.

The thousands of informal recycler families who live in and around Payatas dumpsite struggle to eek out a living in unsanitary conditions, earning around $1 per day. If the Philippine government’s methane to energy project provides these families with free power, it could make a significant improvement in the quality of their lives, which are barely at subsistence level.

Check out the below video report from CNN Eco Solutions for more on the story:

Alternative energy from trash

Additional resources:

Business Mirror – EcoWaste Coalition petitions President Noy to remember Payatas tragedy of 2000

EcoWaste Coalition

Quezon City Local Government – The Payatas Dumpsite: From Tragedy To Triumph