One of Metro Manila’s largest cities has acted to drastically reduce plastic waste towards a greener metro, while teaching how the public can turn what’s in their trash into groceries.  

Supervised by the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, and in partnership with the Basic Environmental Systems and Technologies, Inc. (BEST), the Quezon City government launched “Trash to Cashback” last March 3, 2021.   

By going to the My Basurero Eco-Community kiosk located at the QC Hall Risen Garden, this pilot location enables employees to exchange recyclable waste for groceries. By giving the kiosk items such as recyclable paper, plastic, and metal waste, people can earn Environmental Points (EPs) which have a corresponding value in goods.

EPs can be exchanged for preserves like sandwich spreads, and canned fish and meat. They can also be exchanged for food items like rice, eggs, bread, fruits, vegetables, sugar and even essentials such as toiletries.

The benefits of this program are multi-fold, not only does it encourage the public to gather and trade in their recyclables for valuable commodities instead of throwing them away, it also teaches waste segregation, contextualizing value in what’s thought of as mere trash, while also incentivizing the move to less reliance on plastics.

Mayor Joy Belmonte and the QC government aim to prohibit single-use plastics and utensils by July 1 in the city, envisioning a time when their use will be strictly limited or even phased out.  

EPs can also be used in bXTRA food deliveries and, further along, the program looks to welcome micro and small businesses into the program fold as partner merchants. Caravans and mobile stores carrying the program’s waste exchange points system will soon be rolled out to QC barangays at strategic locations. QC residents who wish to participate are encouraged to register their email to BeepXTRA Philippines, BEST’s Cashback Loyalty Platform partner, to earn EPs. While a complete list of partner stores and establishments can be accessed through bXTRA.com.ph and bXTRAoutlet.delivery.