Lessons from the Asia-Pacific: As Africa Journeys to host the next IZWCC

By Careen Mwakitalu, GAIA Africa, Communications Associate

The benefits of a zero waste model are a multitude. Household waste sorting, re-use and recovery of products, responsible production and consumption and even product resurrection at its end of use are some ways we can support the zero waste model.

To demonstrate the power of zero waste, GAIA Asia Pacific held the International Zero Waste Cities Conference (IZWCC) in the Philippines from 26th  – 27th January 2023. The conference was a strategic effort to obtain active engagement from municipalities to phase out waste and showcase cities as primary drivers of sustainable environments. Furthermore, the conference demonstrated innovative zero waste solutions like source separation, organics management, materials recovery, and plastic regulation.

The Asia-Pacific region produced inspirational outputs that created meaningful engagement during the IZWCC. This includes a series of apprising panels, presentations, waste management facility visits and publications. One of these publications was the ‘Vision & Grit’ publication, a compilation of impact stories from 14 women environmental leaders from the Asia-Pacific region. The publication spotlights years of exceptional leadership dedication by Asian women to attain zero waste communities and defend the rights of waste workers.

Another publication showcased during the conference was ‘On The Ground. The publication sheds light on the realities of waste workers, their challenges, and how they are essential stakeholders in the zero waste value chain. A beautiful exhibition was constructed to highlight the publication and the waste workers featured. 

For the visiting Africa team, comprising of Niven Reddy Ana Le Rocha, Careen Mwakitalu and Carissa Marnce, one of the major highlights for the conference was that Africa would be the next host of the IZWCC. This would be the first time the conference happens outside of Asia, and Nipe Fagio in Dar es Salaam would lead the process.

The social and environmental contexts in Asia-Pacific and Africa are very similar. Like the Asia-Pacific region, Africa still struggles with infrastructural barriers, inadequate awareness, geopolitical challenges and socio-economic issues. Remarkably, the IZWCC demonstrated that zero waste practices are possible through collaboration with municipalities, community compliance, and respect for waste workers. The visiting Africa team had a lot of inspiration to take home as preparations are underway to gather government officials, civil society organizations and zero waste practitioners for the next IZWCC. 

The IZWCCC 2023 ended with a role appreciation ceremony that was done in conjunction with Mother Earth Foundation. A total of 200 waste workers from the Philippines were celebrated on the 28th January 2023 at the mayor’s office in Quezon City. Waste workers were awarded for their important contributions and provided with necessary services like sanitary services and medical checkups and good food and company. All in all it was a sucessfull event where participants gained so much knowledge from the information and experiences shared. 



1. GAIA Nigeria Members held a 2-day workshop with the theme Civil Society Organizations Engagement with National and International Plastic Policy Processes” on February 13–14, 2023, at the IBIS Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. The hybrid (virtual and physical attendance) conference drew national and international stakeholders from the value chain of plastic policy processes.

2. Members of GAIA Nigeria include the Centre for Earth Works (CFEW), Green Knowledge Foundation (GKF), Pan African Vision for the Environment (PAVE), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Community Action Against Plastic Waste (CAPws), Sustainable Environmental Development Initiative (SEDI), Policy Alert, the Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF), and the Lekeh Development Foundation (LDF).

3. The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Connect the various GAIA Nigeria members in the country;
  • Exchange knowledge on zero waste and incinerator alternatives;
  • Crystallize ideas on the way forward as Nigeria plays a pivotal role in Africa’s waste management practices.

4. Additionally, the workshop had in attendance participants from the Lagos State Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Experts, Trade Associations, and the Media, to deliberate on national and international plastic policy processes.

5. Goodwill messages were delivered by the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (LSMoE&WR), the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), the Lagos Recyclers Association, and the Lagos Waste Pickers Association.

6. Technical presentations were made by GAIA Africa, LSMoE & WR, LAWMA, LASEPA, and SRADev Nigeria on various thematic areas such as zero waste, climate justice, incineration alternatives, state and national plastic policies, and the global plastic treaty.


During the extensive deliberations at the workshop, the following observations were made:

  1. The challenge of plastic waste is an increasing global and national concern, with its attendant public and environmental health implications.
  2. Whereas waste reduction is key to having zero waste, this concept is not yet fully mainstreamed into national and state waste policy processes.
  3. Plastic is mainly carbon and chemical based however, there is a huge knowledge gap in understanding the toxic chemical components in Nigeria. These hazardous substances are easily transferred into the food chain and other environmental media.
  4. During the last Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC), the Nigerian representation was not formidable.
  5. There is a paucity of information and data on the volume and chemical constituent of plastic in the Nigerian market.
  6. There is a plastic waste regulation ongoing; however, the existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework is weak and incapable of addressing the current plastic waste management challenges.
  7. The National Association of Scraps and Waste Pickers Association exists at an informal level, they require recognition and integration in the waste management sector.
  8. The Lagos Recyclers Association is a formidable association in the waste management sector. Members of the association are engaged in the value chain of waste management. 
  9. The advent of Pakam software by LAWMA advocates for waste sorting from the source at the household level.
  10. Africa is seeing the increasing emergence of waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration projects. WTE is frequently presented to municipalities as a silver bullet solution to their waste problems. 
  11. Waste generation is intrinsically linked to climate change and there is a lack of urgency from African leaders on sustainable ways to manage plastic and organic waste. Evidence has shown that Green House Gases (GHG) emissions will dramatically increase if plastic production continues as projected and waste is burned.
  12. The involvement of waste pickers in the waste management sector is an effective and inclusive approach to addressing climate change in Africa. 
  13. The informal waste sector is responsible for up to 50% of waste collection and 45% of recycling in low-income countries like Nigeria. The informal waste sector in this case includes waste pickers, collectors, recyclers and aggregators.


  • There is an urgent need for a National Plastic Treaty Steering Committee (NSC). This team should act to provide guidance and oversee the process.
  • The meeting resolved that the Federal Government should ban single-use plastic immediately. This should take effect in 2024 as opposed to the current 2028 date as contained in the proposed national policy on plastic waste management, starting with styrofoam, microbeads, carrier bags, plastic spoons, straws, and disposable cups, as they have no economic value (recycling) potential.
  • We urge the federal government to avoid the adoption of Waste to Energy Technologies such as municipal waste Incinerators and chemical recycling facilities; these are false solutions, as they enable the unsustainable consumption of resources, contribute to climate change, release a cocktail of noxious substances that pose hazards to public health, and diverts funds from cheaper, sustainable zero-waste solutions.
  • All national and state plastic policies should incorporate zero waste principles, taking into account an entire lifecycle approach to plastic management and non-recyclable materials.
  • There is a need for a nationwide campaign and the capacity development of policymakers on the toxicity of plastic within the plastic value chain in Nigeria.


In consideration of the key recommendations from the participants, these resolutions were adopted;

  • There is an urgent call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare a state of emergency on plastic production and its chemical constituent transparency.


Finally, we encourage all efforts by the public, private and civil societies to be geared towards a zero-waste economy.

Dated this 14th day of February 2023 in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.


We, the undersigned alliances and organizations, are deeply concerned about the integrity of the statements recently released by the Japan International Cooperation Agency for its lack of accountability on past and present efforts in promoting and investing in false solutions to waste management and climate in Davao City. In the articles, it has disclaimed its support for the WTE incinerator project as it impedes the rights of affected communities to receive adequate information, to be heard, to seek redress and file complaints to accountable institutions.

Since 2010, JICA has been instrumental in the entry of Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incinerators in Davao City. The development assistance which began as a Collaboration Program with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technology[1] commenced in March 2018 with the signing of the Japanese Government and the Republic of the Philippines of a grant agreement worth PhP 2.052 billion to fund the construction and operation of a PhP 5.23 billion WtE incinerator in the City. The remaining project cost of around PhP 3 billion will be covered by the Philippine Government which was already requested for release through a resolution by the Davao City Council in August 2022 — an amount equivalent to more than 60 percent of the entire annual budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The feasibility report of the WTE project in Davao[2] stressed that the absence of prior experience in managing and operating WTE facilities is a big hurdle in the Philippines, and the limited capacity of the municipality to cover the cost of waste treatment with WTE technology. It also added that proper legal and regulatory scheme are all required to implement the first project of full-scale WTE facility[3].

These statements indicate a recognition of the legal barriers put in place by the Filipino people through our Congress to safeguard our health and the environment as stated in the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Management Act.

Yet, JICA has continued promoting its Japanese technology despite a standing legal ban on incinerators now being defended by environmental advocates in the Supreme Court and in the midst of City-wide opposition to the project. JICA’s assistance flowed to systematically undermine the policy barriers for the entry of this Japanese technology into our waste management system. JICA has directly engaged in the development of waste management guidelines, supported interagency meetings to discuss implementation arrangements for its project[4], and facilitated learning tours of government officials and waste regulators to WTE incinerator sites in Kitakyushu City, Japan. This cooperation continued without access to information and meaningful consultations that city residents have continued to oppose[5].

As rightly identified in the feasibility study, 50% of the area is afforested or tropical forest of which 43% is used for agriculture where bananas, pineapples, coffee, and coconuts cover most of these agricultural areas. When operationalized, the WTE incinerator will produce globally known harmful byproducts such as dioxins, furans, mercury that will have dire implications to crop and soil health, air quality, the ecosystems, health and food security.

The WTE incinerator is not the answer to our City’s limited capacity for collection and segregation that was identified in the project feasibility. We would hope that development institutions like JICA see their support to capacitate our local governments to fully implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the provision of financing for existing Zero Waste systems and innovations that are deemed to be a just and more appropriate option for managing our waste.

We respectfully urge JICA to withdraw its support for Waste-to-Energy in Davao City and elsewhere in the country in respect to our ban on incinerators. We also encourage JICA to ensure transparency and accountability in their development projects to ensure that the benefits of the development vision are equitably shared with and for disadvantaged groups. ###

[1] This landing site from JICA’s website shows the agency’s involvement since 2010. https://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/social_environmental/id/asia/southeast/category_c.html

[2] Final Report. Collaboration Program with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technology for Waste-to-Energy system in Davao City published by the Republic of the Philippines Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office, May 2016

[3] Fund for P2B waste-to-energy project in Davao City still available, Manila Bulletin, 22 January 2023

[4] The Project for Capacity Development on Improving Solid Waste Management through Advanced/Innovative Technologies. DENR Newsletter January 2021

[5] Petition to Davao City Council and Mayor Sebastian Duterte “No to WTE incineration in Davao! Go for genuine zero waste solutions!” by No Burn Davao

Download our Open Letter Here.

The first intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC-1) to end plastic pollution

By Merrisa Naidoo (GAIA/BFFP Africa Plastics Campaigner)

After more than thirty hours of flying and four connecting flights later, I was finally able to join more than 2,335 delegates and over 1,000 representatives from Civil Society, Industry, and IGOs at the first intergovernmental committee meeting (INC-1) for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Punta del Este, Uruguay from the 28 of November to the 2 of December 2022. The magnitude of participants was a clear representation of the world coming together to craft one of the most significant multilateral environmental agreements in history. 

My purpose was clear, to support and strengthen the voices of our African membership in a way that was meaningful to their direct advocacy efforts within their respective countries and for the African continent as a whole. We did that, within the first 2 days of the INC-1, voices of members from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Mauritius, Cameroon, Kenya, the Gambia and Tunisia came together in camaraderie, good spirits and motivated to ensure that their country delegates were well informed and equipped going into the first round of negotiations. Together, we very quickly became a formidable force to be reckoned with, in developing key relationships with our fellow African country representatives and laying our demands on the table which were to; 1)  Raise the Stakes on Ambition, 2) Produce a Clear Target for Future Negotiations, 3) Reserve the Right to Vote, 4) Reduce Plastic Production and 5) Stay Clear of Industry Agendas & False Solutions. It gave us great pride to see the African Group (AG) taking ownership of this process especially since Africa continues to shoulder the burden of toxic and non-recyclable plastic waste exports despite not being net producers of the plastic crisis. Their interventions were strong, reflective of all voices and developed with the realities of the region in mind.

Amidst the high-level interventions, world-cup fever soon set in and what better way than sport to bring nations together and realise their patronage to the well-being of their people and countries. The global plastics treaty should therefore seek to pay heed to the interconnectedness of people within their natural environment and include the protection of livelihoods and communities vulnerable to the present environmental catastrophes, which is in line with the United Nations General Assembly declaration that everyone on the planet earth has a right to a healthy environment. Civil society, waste pickers, fenceline and frontline communities, indigenous and traditional communities, and women are to be at the centre of the negotiations. They should be at the table and not simply on the menu! Unfortunately, giving industries and top polluting companies a seat at the table, whose agenda prioritises profit over people, will prove to stifle the effectiveness of what the treaty can achieve.

In this regard, during the INC-1, it was rather concerning to learn of the pronounced presence of polluting industries; this was especially felt during the convening of a multi-stakeholder forum which was a roundtable discussion organized a day before the start of the negotiations to deliver a report to the INC, despite the fact that it is not included in the mandate to develop the treaty and the entire set-up appeared to be industry-driven and an effort to divert and prevent the voices of civil society and rights holders from direct and more meaningful forms of participation in the treaty development process. 

As we move ahead and prepare for INC-2 in May 2023, our efforts need not be undermined by industry greenwashing and tactics based on false solutions and voluntary commitments. As the GAIA/BFFP Africa team, we will continue to support and uphold the tireless efforts of our members to ensure their voices reach their country’s focal points in a just and equitable way that is meaningful and towards the development of a strong treaty. 

To kick-start this, be sure to look out for the INC-1 member pack and the newly formed Africa Plastics Working Group in 2023, which will aim to create a platform that brings together GAIA and BFFP Africa members with an interest in various aspects of the plastics crisis to 1) Share their experiences & work within their respective countries, 2) Build capacity on plastic policy & legislation on the continent, 3) Strategize on positions & work geared towards the plastics treaty with a regional perspective, 4) Collaborate on joint projects & campaigns of interest and 5) Forster support for one another. 

Let’s End the Age of Plastics!

One of the leading causes of climate change is unmanaged waste and at the recently held COP27 last November 2022, the continuing struggle to reach the Global Methane Pledge, which recognizes that reducing methane, a greenhouse gas over 80 times as potent as CO2, is critical to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C. 

Waste is the third largest source of methane, primarily from landfilling organic waste.  Tackling this greenhouse gas globally remains on the agenda of countries committed to put forward the Global Waste Initiative 50, which hopes to catalyze both adaptation and mitigation solutions by treating and recycling 50% of the waste produced by 2050. Both the Global Methane Pledge and the Global Waste Initiative 50 signal how countries are recognizing the potential of Zero Waste to help meet climate targets affordably and effectively by introducing better waste management policies. 

Zero Waste, therefore, is an essential tool for climate adaptation, particularly for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Approaches such as composting to reduce pollution prevents disease vectors and boosts soil resilience while also combating floods and droughts that threaten food security. Such approaches also create jobs while lowering waste management costs. These and other affordable, fast-acting Zero Waste strategies are vital and should be included in international climate financing to ensure that money is going to communities already building grassroots climate solutions, not to polluting waste management projects.

To date, more than 25 cities across the region have established Zero Waste models, showcasing innovations in source separation, organics management, materials recovery, and plastic regulation. Several of these cities have also incorporated waste assessment brand audits (WABA)*. In their baseline studies, exposing plastic waste as one of the most problematic aspects of their waste streams. With various government initiatives such as plastic bans to reduce the number of carrier bags and plastic straws, challenges in dealing with the volume of single-use plastics (SUPs) render governments to spend millions of funds in transportation costs for landfilling, or even incineration. 

These pressing issues and concerns, from addressing climate challenges, reducing gaps, and highlighting impactful initiatives and policies to meet our global targets, serve as the focal agenda in this year’s International Zero Waste Cities Conference 2023 (IZWCC 2023). Held previously in Malaysia (2019), the Philippines proudly takes on the hosting conference baton this year.

Aptly themed Zero Waste to Zero Emission, the International Zero Waste Cities Conference will gather government officials, civil society organizations, and Zero Waste communities and practitioners from cities in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, the United States, Europe, and Africa in a two-day conference at Seda Hotel, Quezon City on 26 – 27 January 2023. 

For details, visit izwcc.zerowaste.asia.

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Rappler (Philippines), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 

Zero Waste Month celebrations originated in the Philippines in 2012 when youth leaders issued a Zero Waste Youth Manifesto calling for, among other things, the celebration of a Zero Waste Month. This was made official when Presidential Proclamation No. 760 was issued, declaring January as Zero Waste Month in the Philippines. It was then promoted widely by NGOs and communities that had already adopted this approach to manage their waste.

In a time when disinformation is the  norm, it has  become a rare opportunity to find points of truth. Global crises, especially waste management problems, are undeniably evident almost everywhere. It continues to propagate in communities consequently affecting their environment, livelihood, and health. With the government bodies and large-scale corporations not taking action to address the problem, it becomes a vicious cycle with no clear end.  

This is why in continuing the observance of the International Zero Waste Month, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific is hosting the Zero Waste Film Fest available online and in cinemas this January. The festival screens full-length features and documentaries as well as short films from the wide network of the alliance: Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, to mention a few. 

With the goal to properly educate the population with science-based and community-oriented facts, the stories examine the roots of the waste pollution and how community members are fighting for their lives to make changes. It also solidifies GAIA’s vision that Zero Waste is possible when communities and the government work together through a number of case studies from across the Asia Pacific region.

“We hope to make this more than just an eye opener but also a trigger for people to tap on their communities and knock on businesses and corporations so they can start making changes towards the Zero Waste vision. The answer is already there, we just have to utilize resources and help everyone know that there are alternatives to polluting systems.” Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Coordinator said. The alliance believes that with an improved mindset and action towards waste management, there is great opportunity for greater problems to be solved such as that of climate challenges.

Stream the featured films of the virtual film fest via Zero Waste TV from January 9 to 31, 2023. Join in the fun of watching it on the big screen with like-minded game changers on January 27, 2022, 6 to 9:30 PM  at Trinoma Activity Center in Quezon City.

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Rappler (Philippines), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 

Zero Waste Month celebrations originated in the Philippines in 2012 when youth leaders issued a Zero Waste Youth Manifesto calling for, among other things, the celebration of a Zero Waste Month. This was made official when Presidential Proclamation No. 760 was issued, declaring January as Zero Waste Month in the Philippines. It was then promoted widely by NGOs and communities that had already adopted this approach to manage their waste.


GAIA is a network of grassroots groups as well as national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries. For more information, visit www.no-burn.org and zwmonth.zerowaste.asia or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok


Sonia G. Astudillo, Senior Communications Officer, +63 9175969286, sonia@no-burn.org

Dan Abril, Communications Associate, dan@no-burn.org 

Exposing the truth behind the plastic crisis through a brand audit 

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific took a bold step forward in unveiling the truth behind the plastic pollution crisis through a waste assessment and brand audit (WABA)* and media briefing event on January 24, 2023 as part of International Zero Waste Month 2023. 

With participation from Ocean Conservancy, this event shed more light on the narrative impact of the GAIA network’s brand audits. Ocean Conservancy had published a report in 2015* that put blame on Asian countries as the main drivers of plastic pollution in the ocean and positioned incineration as a solution to the plastic crisis. They retracted the report in July 2022, recognizing the harm it caused.

“We, at the Global South, have carried the weight and responsibility of waste for too long while our reality and the community solutions we have developed are ignored,” said Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Coordinator.  “This brand audit with GAIA, Mother Earth Foundation, Ecowaste Coalition, and Ocean Conservancy shows the commitment to work towards reducing waste, moving away from false solutions, acknowledging the work happening on the ground, and most important, restoring justice where it was previously overlooked.”    

Since Ocean Conservancy’s retraction of the report, the two organizations have been engaging in a restorative justice process to acknowledge and address the harm done by the report, and join forces to expose false solutions and drive accountability among plastics producers. 

“We cannot solve the plastic pollution crisis without reducing virgin plastic production, especially single-use plastics,” said Nicholas Mallos, Ocean Conservancy’s  Vice President of Ocean Plastics. “This has to be our first priority. We are grateful for the incredible work that GAIA has done to shed light on this issue, and hope to learn from their members. We look forward to working together by leveraging each of our organizations’ strengths to eliminate plastic pollution.”  

For years brand audit reports have shown that consumer brands based in the Global North have been overproducing single-use plastics and flooding Asian markets with disposable, throwaway packaging, at the expense of citizens and local governments who end up footing the bill and enduring the long-lasting environmental health effects associated with plastic pollution. 

Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement said, “For years, the public has been conditioned to believe that the problem of plastic pollution, now manifesting in the unprecedented, pernicious, and wide-ranging contamination of all life on the planet, was caused by their undisciplined ways and the failure of governments to institute and implement proper waste management systems. Our brand audits have now exposed the real causes of this crisis – and it is mainly due to the irresponsible and predatory practice by corporations of saturating our societies with single-use plastics of all kinds with no consideration about how they can be managed in an environmentally safe and benign manner.” 

“In addition,  Ecowaste Coalition campaigner Coleen Salamat said that, “The real issue is the export of waste and waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration technologies to developing countries,” In the Philippines and in the rest of Asia, “We are faced with truckloads of waste that we have no means of handling. From products packed in sachets to WtE incineration projects, and waste colonialism* has sadly become a norm.” 

“It is never too late to turn things around. Communities around the world are discovering the power of Zero Waste solutions. Through the restorative justice process, we will continue to expose the truth of the waste crisis and it will be more than just a wake-up call to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and purveyors of false narratives, but cold water splashed over their faces,” said Grate. “The Zero Waste solutions that we have and been doing all these years will be enough for our lawmakers to rethink their policies to turn the tide against waste and the climate crisis.” 


* Waste Assessment and Brand Audit (WABA) is a methodical process of collecting and analyzing waste to determine the amount and types of waste generated by households and cities and identity which brands are responsible for producing certain percentages of the collected waste. Plastics Exposed details how waste assessments and brand audits help Philippine cities tackle plastic waste. 

* In 2015, the  US-based non-profit Ocean Conservancy published the report, Stemming the Tide. This has since been retracted by Ocean Conservancy.  

* Waste colonialization is the practice of exporting waste, from the higher-income countries to lower-income countries who are ill-equipped to handle this waste which places the burden of plastic and toxic waste on the environment, communities, and these countries’ informal waste sector, especially in the Global South.   

An alliance of voices from the frontlines and for the environment

Super Typhoons. Flash Floods. Forest Fires. Drought. While the challenges of climate change are global, the impacts and the solutions are often highly local. Communities therefore, need trusted information to mitigate environmental impacts and find new ways to adapt. This is where the role of environment-centric civic journalism comes in. With these in mind, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific Media Fellowship was launched in 2019 in the Philippines and Malaysia which was designed to maximize the participation of journalists from various media organizations and academic institutions to learn about environmental issues affecting the region. Fellows from different media outlets were provided the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of core issues such as Zero Waste (ZW), plastic pollution, and waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration. From this initiative, the Zero Waste Journalist Network was formed.

The Zero Waste Journalist Network aims to improve media coverage on Zero Waste, and therefore increase public engagement in the issue with focus on developing countries, especially in critically affected regions. Digital and on-line discussions and exchanges between network members will be regularly done, continuously building capacities by informing colleagues through collaborative learning. This access enables a stream of news stories with relevant scientific and policy information to reach audiences across the global South. Taking a networked approach, it aims to become more sustainable by creating networks of climate change journalists who work in a leadership role with their local colleagues and community audiences. 

The Zero Waste Journalist Network was formally launched on January 19, 2023 as part of the observance of the International Zero Waste Month.

Among the journalists are Gerry Lirio (Philippines – Southeast Asia), who after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) realized the importance of environmental reporting, especially climate reporting from small island nations, and advocated the creation of a “green” desk for media outlets in the Philippines; Ben Bilua (Solomon Islands – Pacific) who sees the importance of climate reporting especially for island nations like his; and Abhishek Kumar (India – South Asia), who stressed on the importance of highlighting Zero Waste (ZW) work in Asia Pacific and showing the global north that we have solutions here.

Other founding members include: Shiburaj AK (India), Mehedi Al Amin (Bangladesh), Laraib Athar (Pakistan), Parvez Babul (Bangladesh), Ben Bilua (Solomon  Island), Marit Cabugon (Philippines), Ranjit Devraj (India), Rupa Gahatraj (Nepal), Melvin Gascon (Philippines), Shatakshi Gawalde (India), Sabir Hussain (Pakistan), Bui Thanh Huyen (Vietnam), Paramie Jayakody (Sri Lanka), Abishek Kumar (India), Gerry Lirio (Philippines), Cao Ly Ly (Vietnam), Adi Marsiela (Indonesia), Ian Mcintyre (Malaysia), Ted Ong (Philippines), Bhumi Kala Poudel (Nepal), Purple Romero (Philippines), Ashraful Alam Shuvro (Bangladesh), Ananta Prakash Subedi (Nepal), Ramadhan Wibisono (Indonesia), Shailendra Yashwant (India), Wisal Yousafzai (Pakistan), and Xibei Zhang (China).

This historic launch of the Zero Waste Journalists Network will give voice to Zero Waste and climate discussions as seen from the lens of journalists. 

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Rappler (Philippines), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 

Zero Waste Month celebrations originated in the Philippines in 2012 when youth leaders issued a Zero Waste Youth Manifesto calling for, among other things, the celebration of a Zero Waste Month. This was made official when Presidential Proclamation No. 760 was issued, declaring January as Zero Waste Month in the Philippines. It was then promoted widely by NGOs and communities that had already adopted this approach to manage their waste.

GAIA is a network of grassroots groups as well as national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries.

For more information, visit www.no-burn.org and zwmonth.zerowaste.asia or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok


Sonia G. Astudillo, Senior Communications Officer, +63 9175969286, sonia@no-burn.org

Dan Abril, Communications Associate, dan@no-burn.org 

On January 9, 2023, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific together with Ecowaste Coalition and the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) – Davao and in partnership with Ecoteneo, Masipag Mindanao, Panalipdan Youth-Davao, and Saligan-Mindanaw stood together with affected farmers, residents, and concerned members of the community as they opposed the pending construction of a waste-to-energy (WtE) incinerator in Davao City.

In August last year, the City Council of Davao unanimously approved a WtE facility funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) despite a national ban on incineration as provided for by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act. Proposed to be constructed on ten hectares in Barangay Biao Escuela in Tugbok District, the facility will stand close to the barangay’s school, agricultural lands, and a few hundred meters away from the relocation site of the affected communities.

During a people’s forum held in January 9, the organizations have spoken out against the city government’s plan for a WtE incinerator, stating that the facility will only impact people’s health and Davao’s rich biodiversity, particularly its already fragile watersheds. 

According to Gary Villocino of Masipag, a network of farmers in Davao, “The construction of this facility will not only be dangerous to people’s health but will also destroy valuable agricultural land. Land that could be used to cultivate resources for the community.”

Mark Peñalver of IDIS-Davao adds, “When it comes to WtE incineration, the bottom line is this: not only is it a dangerous way to produce energy, it’s also incredibly harmful to the environment.  What’s more, incineration is not a renewable or sustainable energy source. In fact, it actually produces more greenhouse gasses than coal. So not only is incineration a bad choice for the environment, but it’s also not a wise choice from a climate perspective.”  

Randy Catubag Irog of the Mintal Resource Collectors Association (MiRCA) in Barangay Mintal, despite fearing repercussions for disagreeing with the project, stated his disapproval and highlighted that there are more sustainable approaches that are helpful to the community and the environment. “We collect recyclables and sell them for profit and WtE will only teach future generations to be lazy as it undermines recycling efforts if waste can be simply burned away.”    

Communities cited that the City’s waste composition is 50 percent organic waste which cannot be burned in the proposed type of WtE technology. Advocates point out that the WtE project is also not a financially viable project for JICA, the city government and the private sector. 

Peter Damary of the start-up enterprise, Limadol, shared that Davao needs to focus on segregation at source.  “Davao’s case, around 50  percent of waste is composed of food waste. If removed from the waste stream through composting, it eases the burden on landfills and leaves other waste available for recycling. Further, the environmental value composting  contributes to methane reduction can not be ignored.”

Citing the efforts of other barangays in the country, GAIA Asia Pacific’s Zero Waste Coordinator in the Philippines, Archie Abellar shares that individuals and communities in Davao are similarly gradually adapting Zero Waste strategies to combat waste. From composting to opting for refills instead of single-use plastics or sachets, there is a conscious effort from the grassroots to veer away from practices that harm the planet.

He concludes, “WtE incineration is a band-aid solution and will only make matters worse in the long run. JICA has not examined existing options on waste management in the City and have promoted an expensive and harmful technology. We call on JICA and the local government to support zero waste systems as they offer  inclusive, effective and sustainable approach to the City’s waste problem .”


The International Zero Waste Month is made possible in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Rappler (Philippines), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 

Zero Waste Month celebrations originated in the Philippines in 2012 when youth leaders issued a Zero Waste Youth Manifesto calling for, among other things, the celebration of a Zero Waste Month. This was made official when Presidential Proclamation No. 760 was issued, declaring January as Zero Waste Month in the Philippines. It was then promoted widely by NGOs and communities that had already adopted this approach to manage their waste.


GAIA is a network of grassroots groups as well as national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries.

For more information, visit www.no-burn.org or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: Facebook,  Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.


Dan Abril I Communications Associate I Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) – Pacific I dan@no-burn.org I +63917 419 4426

Archie Abellar I Zero Waste Philippine Coordinator I Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) – Pacific I archie@no-burn.org I +63908 770 0681