Quezon City, Philippines

Bringing the circular economy to Quezon City’s Food System

About Quezon City, Philippines

Quezon City (QC) is situated in the northeast portion of Metro Manila. It is bounded on the north by Caloocan City and San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan Province, on the east by San Mateo and Marikina, on the south by Pasig and Mandaluyong, San Juan and Manila, and on the west by Valenzuela, Caloocan, and Manila. Its north-eastern and eastern boundaries are defined by the Novaliches Watershed and the Marikina River. QC is the main gateway, linking Metro Manila to all Northern and Southern Luzon expressways. It is easily accessible from the major highways, thoroughfares, and mass transit systems. With an area of 16,112.58 hectares (based on the 1995 GIS graphical plot), it is the largest among the 17 cities and municipalities in the region and is almost one-fourth the size of Metro Manila with a population of around is 2,960,048 (2020 Census of Population and Housing, Philippines Statistics Authority). The City’s economy continues to be dominated by small to medium-scale business establishments engaged mostly in the distribution of finished products and in the provision of basic services. 

Quezon City's sustainability challenges

The Philippines is considered one of the extremely vulnerable countries to climate change with its associated disaster and climate risks. Having a medium combined risk of climate disasters, Quezon City intends to maximize synergies between climate mitigation and adaptation actions. Demonstrating rapid urban growth, Quezon City endeavors to move towards a carbon-neutral and climate-resilient development pathway, striving to promote sustainable solutions in addressing development pressures and creating healthier, greener spaces for its citizens. While climate change is a universal and far-reaching global issue that affects all nations, some sectors and communities are more gravely impacted due to their economic standing, gender, income, and age, among other various socioeconomic factors. As climate change is tied up to all facets of development, it can also widen the gap of existing social inequalities.

Quezon City’s existing sustainability commitments and targets

  • Inclusivity and equity for climate change action

    Given that the consequences of climate change will have unequal distribution among different socioeconomic groups, Quezon City is promoting inclusivity and equity by integrating social, economic, and spatial elements in the Enhanced Local Climate Change Action Plan 2012-2050. It emphasizes the potential to deliver transformative outcomes that will not only promote meaningful benefits throughout the population but also change, improve, or even disrupt unequal and unfair socioeconomic conditions, especially for the most vulnerable sectors and communities.

  • Leadership on transformative climate actions

    By championing climate leadership, Quezon City aspires to become the leading city in advancing inclusive, ambitious, evidence-based, and transformative climate actions in the Philippines. The City’s climate change mitigation goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 30% in 2030 compared to the projected business-as-usual scenario and commit to pursuing net-zero emissions by 2050 while the climate change adaptation goal underlines the need for progressive action to build on and strengthen the resilience of its ecosystems and communities against risks and threats from the changing climate.

  • Priorities on climate action

    To support its climate and equity targets, the City identified twelve strategies aligned with the seven priority pillars of the National Climate Change Action Plan of the Philippines. Among the strategies developed is striving towards a circular economy, prioritizing organic, paper, and plastic waste. Five priority climate actions were also developed under this strategy, which include

    (1) improving resource circulation of organic waste,
    (2) implementing a Green Public Procurement Program and single-use plastic ban,
    (3) upgrading of wastewater treatment systems and facilities,
    (4) strengthened recycling through awareness-raising and incentive schemes, and
    (5) promoting circular business models leading to upcycling of materials such as textile wastes, preloved clothing, and other discarded products.

  • Food systems

    Food Security is one of the priorities of Quezon City which is also aligned with the priority pillars of the national government. An enhanced food system provides numerous opportunities across various sectors including health and nutrition, carbon emissions reduction, regeneration of ecosystems and increased community resilience, livelihoods and employment, among others.

    To ensure that the City’s objectives on food security are attained, the Quezon City Food Security Task Force (QC FSTF) was established through Executive Order 32 series of 2020, signed in May 2020 to promote, and enhance food security and food self-sufficiency through Urban Agriculture, the Development of Agriculture Zones & Food Zones, and the overall optimization of food systems.

    In terms of food systems, Quezon City committed to the aspirations and objectives of the C40 Good Food Declaration in October 2019. With this commitment, the City is expected to:
    (1) Align food procurement to the Planetary Health Diet, ideally sourced from organic agriculture;
    (2) Support an overall increase of healthy plant-based food consumption by shifting away from unsustainable, healthy diets;
    (3) Reduce food loss and waste by 50% from a 2015 baseline;
    (4) Address food insecurity by encouraging citizens to cultivate their own food; and
    (5) Develop a joint strategy for implementing good food measures and achieve through inclusive and equitable stakeholder participation and incorporation of strategies into the City’s Climate Action Plan.

Quezon City's existing circular practices

City's Green Public Procurement Program

Quezon City is aiming to provide an enabling environment for the promotion of environment-friendly goods, services and infrastructure to promote sustainable consumption and production as well as a circular economy through the City’s Green Public Procurement Program.

City Ordinance No. SP-3107, S-2021 entitled “An Ordinance Mandating the Inclusion of Environmental Criteria in the Technical Specifications for the Procurement of Goods, Services and Infrastructure in Quezon City, Otherwise Known as the Quezon City Green Public Procurement Ordinance of 2021” was enacted by the Quezon City Council. The City is also a member of the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement.

Healthy Public Food Procurement Policy

Executive Order No. 16, S – 2021 or the Healthy Public Food Procurement Policy of Quezon City was signed and issued last July 23, 2021. The policy contains the nutrition standards to be followed by the City Government and sets the roles of each Department involved. The policy also creates a healthy food system wherein healthy food and ingredients may be sourced from the City’s Urban Farms. Further, the directive also applies to all entities involved in the procurement process or supplying of food for the local government, including food suppliers.

Plastic Bags and Single-Use Plastics Ban

The Quezon City Government enacted landmark ordinances on single use plastics, namely SP-2868, S-2019 or the total ban on the distribution of Plastic Bags and SP-2876, S-2019 or the prohibition on the distribution and/or use of single use plastic and disposable materials including cutleries for dine in purposes in all hotels and restaurants.

The aim of the Ordinances is to change and modify the consumption lifestyle of the consumers and do away with the “throw-away attitude” as well as help in the initiatives of the City to ensure its environmental sustainability, particularly in the reduction of plastic wastes.

Joy of Urban Farming

This is a flagship program of the City that started in 2010 to mitigate hunger by encouraging the citizens to produce and grow nutritional vegetables which they can utilize as food on the table. This can also serve as a form of livelihood for them. 

Around 166 urban farms have been established across the City with seven large community model farms maximizing partnerships with various sectors, including the church, civic organizations, national government agencies, academic institutions, and local community groups.

GrowQC: Food Security Program

GrowQC is a flexible and adaptable program that facilitates the promotion of sustainable food systems and collaboration of relevant stakeholders towards nutritious, accessible, and available food for all. The GrowQC Food Security 7-Point Action Plan was created to boost the City’s decade-long urban farming program through a robust urban agriculture expansion and enhancement of food systems. It mitigates the prevailing problems of both hidden (micronutrient deficiency) & real (not able to eat) hunger, low household income, and health risks.

Biodigesters in Urban Farms

Four biodigesters have been distributed to four community farms in the City namely KruNaLi Farm at Barangay Krus Na Ligas, Sharon Farm at Barangay Nova Proper, New Greenland Farm at Barangay Bagong Silangan, and Sunnyville Farm at Barangay Tandang Sora. These biodigesters can process 25 kilograms of organic waste every 3 days which can generate methane gas that can be used for cooking while the sludge and liquid can be used as soil conditioner in the farms.

Rainwater Harvesting

Increasing water demand side management is one of the strategies in the City’s Enhanced Local Climate Change Action Plan 2021-2050 aiming to lead by example and champion water efficiency in city-owned facilities. Through this, efficient water demand-side management to the residential, commercial, and private buildings will be cascaded through the enforcement of policies. 

The City is also scaling up the use of rainwater harvesting facilities and high-efficiency water fixtures as a solution to decarbonize the sector in the City. These sustainable features are being incorporated in new building designs for city-owned buildings and facilities.

Trash to Cashback Program

Quezon City implemented the Trash to Cashback Program to institute mechanisms that advance circular economy objectives while strengthening the implementation of waste segregation at source and recycling, and boosting the recovery of plastic wastes from the waste stream. 

The program, which is being undertaken with Basic Environmental Systems and Technologies, Inc. (BEST), gives incentives to the general public by providing cashback from recyclables traded (i.e. plastic, paper, metals, etc.) through Environmental Points credited in their account. The points are used to purchase basic commodities, grocery items and online orders from partner merchants and to pay for electric and water bills.

Programs