Winning the war on waste

Photo blog contributed by Merci Ferrer, War or Waste (WOW) Negros Oriental

Preventing the creation of waste is first and foremost in waste management.  In 2018, War on Waste (WOW) Negros Oriental mobilized groups and submitted petitions, urging the city government of Dumaguete to enforce its nine-year-old ban on plastic bags. The Dumaguete City Council approved Ordinance No. 231 on 10 August 2011, prohibiting businesses to use or sell plastic shopping bags and styrofoam packaging. However, enforcement of the ban remains to be seen in the city.

To complement local campaigns for a functional plastic bag ban, WOW Negros Oriental has adopted three coastal barangays – Looc, Piapi, and Bantayan – to demonstrate that Zero Waste strategies work in Dumaguete City. Under the Zero Waste Cities Project, we later expanded our work in two more barangays in Dumaguete City, as well as the island province of Siquijor.

Volunteers from various sectors including the youth took part in the Dumaguete at-source waste assessment and brand audit (WABA). Photo by Natasha Kunesch.

The local government, unfortunately, has turned a blind eye to ongoing Zero Waste efforts in five barangays in Dumaguete City, deciding to invest in a centralized Materials Recovery Facility, as well as to continue collecting mixed waste from households and businesses. Such actions have undermined initiatives to segregate waste at source and compost kitchen waste, as observed in WOW Negros Oriental’s five pilot barangays. To make matters worse, the local government is exploring pyrolysis and gasification technologies as a quick fix, ignoring impacts to public health and the environment.

Our war on waste continues.  We need to raise questions, demand the full implementation of existing laws, expose false solutions that create serious toxic problems, and advocate for Zero Waste systems and approaches. 

This August, WOW Negros Oriental volunteers are sailing to Apo Island to bring the Zero Waste Cities Project in this protected landscape and seascape in Negros Oriental. To realize a Zero Waste Apo Island, we have signed a partnership agreement with the island’s local government leaders. WOW volunteers have also started initial activities, such as training community members in doing waste assessment and brand audits, informing households about proper waste segregation at source, and building decentralized MRFs.

One day before Apo Island’s first Waste Assessment & Brand Audit. 

Nestle, Unilever, and Mondelez are topping the list of single use plastics (sachets) in Apo island – Apo Island Brand Audit,  August 2, 2020.

Apo island Waste Assessment & Brand Audit (WABA), August 2, 2020.

Just to give you a glimpse of the life in Apo Island.

 Let’s #GoForZeroWaste. Let’s create toxic a free future for our children!


This feature is made possible through the Zero Waste Cities project — an initiative coordinated by GAIA Asia Pacific and funded by the Plastic Solutions Fund (PSF). The views expressed in this feature do not necessarily reflect that of its funders.