Apo Island, a village in Dauin town in the central Philippine province of Negros Oriental, is tagged as the country’s first zero waste community.
“The community is proud of what they have achieved in their first year of adopting Zero Waste system and practices,” said Merci Ferrer of War On Waste (WOW) Negros Oriental.
Community members in Apo Island started to adopt waste management systems and practices, including proper waste segregation at source, in 2020 under the Zero Waste Cities Project (ZWCP).
The community implemented a door-to-door segregated waste collection system, the use of composting methods, and held training on waste assessment and brand audits to identify waste composition to help design a waste management system that will work for the island.
The island has already established four decentralized Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) with seven full-time waste workers and passed an ordinance regulating single-use plastics in the island.
The island is a tourist destination known for its white beaches, dive spots, and marine sanctuary. It also serves as a living marine laboratory to several universities inside and outside of the country.
Village leader Mario Pascobello said in spite of the efforts of the community to maintain its zero-waste program, residents in the island still face challenges due the inaction of neighboring communities.
“Even if we keep the surroundings clean, because we live on an island, there are times when the strong winds and waves bring the trash from our neighboring towns and communities onto our shores,” he said.
Residents rinse and dry out plastic bottles, food cans, and other recyclables before sending them to waste management facilities or junk shops.
Froilan Grate, Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), said the people of Apo Island have done an “amazing work on their zero waste journey.”
“We want to acknowledge their hard work and to encourage them to sustain it and do more. This is unique: Apo Island is the first Zero Waste Island village in the Philippines,” he said.
The ZWCP is an initiative of GAIA Asia Pacific and 10 member collaborators from India, Indonesia, and the Philippines and is funded by the Plastic Solutions Fund.
The project is now working to have at least one Zero Waste store and Zero Waste Elementary and High Schools.