Meet Apo Island, the Philippines’ first zero-waste isle

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Apo Island, a village in Dauin municipality, Negros Oriental, Philippines, has been recognised as the country’s first Zero-Waste Island after successfully sustaining its waste elimination initiatives for a year.

A popular tourist destination, Apo Island is known for its white beaches, diving sites, and marine sanctuary. It also acts as a natural marine laboratory for several universities both within and outside the country.

“The community is proud of what they have achieved in their first year of adopting Zero Waste system and practices,” said Merci Ferrer, PM, War On Waste (WOW) Negros Oriental-Zero Waste Cities

Community members cleaning up in Apo Island
Community members cleaning up on Apo Island

Last year, WOW Negros Oriental established waste management technologies and procedures on Apo Island. These systems and practices include conducting information campaigns to educate households about proper waste segregation at the source, implementing a door-to-door segregated waste collection system, employing composting methods, establishing a decentralised Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where organic wastes are composted, and recyclables are aggregated for junk shop sale, and establishing 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.

To date, Apo Island now has seven waste collectors, four MRFs, and an ordinance governing single-use plastics on the island. As a result, locals on the island are now rinsing and drying their plastic bottles, food cans, and other recyclables before discarding them.

However, despite Apo Island’s continuing efforts, its inhabitants continue to encounter problems due to the inaction of its neighbouring 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 neighbouring towns and communities onto our shores.” Mario Pascobello, village leader, Apo Island. “This is because our current comes from the northeast of the island; sometimes, the garbage from those areas end up in our shoreline,”

War on Waste for Apo Island
War on Waste for Apo Island

The ZWCP (Zero Waste Community Project) is an initiative of GAIA Asia Pacific and ten-member collaborators from India, Indonesia, and the Philippines and is funded by the Plastic Solutions Fund.

The project’s objectives include supporting decentralized solid waste management, enabling waste reduction policies, detecting and reducing wastes, and creating jobs in collecting and handling recyclable materials at local recyclers, garbage depots, and compost facilities.

“We want to recognize Apo Island for their amazing work on their Zero Waste journey,” said Froilan Grate, APAC Coordinator, GAIA. “We want to acknowledge their hard work and encourage them to sustain it and do more,”

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.


Subscribe – it's free