Apo in Dumaguete is the first Zero Waste Island in the Philippines.
After a year of successfully sustaining its Zero Waste efforts, Apo Island—a barangay (village) in Dauin municipality in Negros Oriental, Philippines—is now tagged as the county’s 1st Zero Waste Island Barangay.
“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-Zero Waste Cities Project Manager. She hopes that a better normal will be on the horizon soon, to better celebrate both small and big victories in the war on wastes.
In 2020, Apo Island adopted waste management systems and practices introduced by WOW Negros Oriental in their community. These systems and practices include the conduct of information campaigns to inform households about proper waste segregation at source, implementation of door-to-door segregated waste collection system, use of composting methods, establishment of a decentralized Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where organic wastes are composted and recyclables are aggregated for junk shop sale, and community members training on waste assessment and brand audits to identify waste composition to help design a waste management system that will work for the island.
“We want to recognize Apo Island for their 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 Barangay in the Philippines,” said Froilan Grate, GAIA’s Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator.
To date, Apo Island has seven waste workers, four MRFs, and an ordinance regulating single-use plastics in the island. Moreover, residents in the island now rinse and dry out their plastic bottles, food cans, and other recyclables before throwing them away. Further, residents in Apo Island, including waste collectors and barangay leaders, expressed their steady support for the Zero Waste Cities Project (ZWCP).
However, despite the consistent efforts of Apo Island, its residents continue to face challenges caused by the inaction of its 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. This is because our current comes from the northeast of the island; sometimes, the garbage from those areas end up in our shoreline,” said Mario Pascobello, a village leader from Apo Island.
This 2021, WOW – ZWCP is working to have at least one Zero Waste store and Zero Waste Elementary and High Schools. WOW Negros Oriental also continues to support Apo women through its livelihood project which uses discarded clothing.
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 was brought in Apo Island by WOW Negros Oriental in their village in 2020. It is aimed at promoting decentralized solid waste management, enabling waste reduction policies, identifying and reducing wastes, and creating jobs in collecting and handling recyclable materials and processing at local recyclers, waste depots, and compost facilities.
Apo Island is a tourist destination in the Philippines 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.