Zero Waste Academy 2022/23, Philippines

An Inspiring Project on Sustainability Attended by ZWM

Inspiring. Overwhelming. Empowering. These are words used by Tasha Sabapathy, ZWM Project Outreach & Comms Exec to describe Zero Waste Academy in the Philippines. Having attended the event with Khor Sue Yee, ZWM Co-Founder and Executive Director, ZWM now has a renewed zest to share and implement sustainability initiatives in Malaysia.

Zero Waste Academy is an immersive training programme organised by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific and Mother Earth Foundation (MEF). Both organisations are major players actively engaged in diverse zero waste projects aimed at reducing waste and creating a toxic-free world. This impactful project is designed to give zero waste practitioners, policymakers, businesses and activists the necessary tools to implement zero waste initiatives in their respective communities and cities.

Conducted from 9 November 2022 to 8 February 2023, the programme welcomed about 80 participants from the Asia Pacific region to its course conducted virtually at the earlier stages. Following a slew of webinars, sharing sessions and assignments, the top 20 participants were selected to attend the in-person workshop conducted in the Philippines from 26 January 2023 to 4 February 2023. Sue Yee and Tasha were selected to proudly represent Malaysia, together with attendees from various Asia Pacific countries, including India, Nepal, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.

What an Interesting Trip!

About to get on the flight!

The all-expenses-paid educational trip had Sue Yee and Tasha catching a flight to Manila and onward to Dumaguete, a bustling city on Negros Island in the southern Philippines. They next boarded a ferry to the island of Siquijor, known as the Philippines’ zero waste island. Undaunted by the journey, both girls remained excited throughout yet fell asleep aboard the ferry to avoid getting seasick. One coursemate even took drastic measures and took over the ferry’s wheel to escape the boredom while everyone else was asleep!

Schedule of Exciting Events

Continuing the in-person workshop on the beautiful Zero Waste Island of Siquijor, was an experience to remember. There was never a dull moment as all participants were engaged in conferences, discussions, fireside chats and panels that addressed various relevant issues, including waste-to-energy technologies and organic waste management.

Key highlights include a tour of the Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) where waste segregation is key to their successful reduction of waste ending in landfills. In the Philippines, waste not segregated is not collected by waste workers and this has effected a positive impact on the environment.

Just as exciting were the zero waste hands-on activities and interactions with other teams by country, complimented by orientation before and deliberations after each activity. During the workshop, teams discussed the implementation of ongoing zero waste programmes in selected “barangays” (villages or districts) across the country. Participants were then involved in a challenge to develop a Zero Waste City Plan, comprised of policies, informative campaigns, establishing Material Recovery Facilities and food waste solutions. What made this workshop outstanding was the sharing of skills and expertise among the participants and learning from educators and policymakers. The great camaraderie among all made it easy for network building and discussing ideas.

Excellent Dining & Accommodation

Sue Yee and Tasha thoroughly enjoyed their stay at a boutique hotel in the city and Coco Grove Beach Resort on Siquijor Island. Meals were all provided and the lucky pair savoured delicious local cuisine daily. Topping off the occasion was the welcome feast in Siquijor for all participants, attended by city officials and the organising team.

Key Learning Points

Zero waste encompasses a broader spectrum. It includes policies and their social implications, financing and focusing on waste-to-energy technologies. Building zero waste cities is critical to every country’s agenda for sustainable development. Instead of targeting the entire nation, policies have a better chance of success if they are implemented, one city at a time.

How to Join Zero Waste Academy

It is free! Simply register your interest at by 31st March 2023. All details are within the link. The 2023 Global Cohort applications are now open. It would be an ideal opportunity to exchange ideas with world leaders and change-makers on an international platform

Paraphrased from the words of Froilan Grate, Regional Coordinator of GAIA Asia Pacific, “we shouldn’t only rely on behavioural change but work towards fixing the system.”

Zero Waste Malaysia – Moving Forward

For zero waste initiatives to work, we should be part of the solution. This means building more practical solutions based on the knowledge gained from attending Zero Waste Academy. We should not only focus on building greater awareness but also, on-the-ground changes by cooperating with relevant stakeholders and strengthening our relationship with city councils.

Stakeholders such as political representatives, NGOs, educators and private senior consultants should be encouraged to join this zero waste journey. After all, small changes will eventually lead to huge results as we aspire for a greener future.

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Established in 2016, Zero Waste Malaysia (“ZWM”) is a non-profit organisation (PPM-044-10-29032018) registered under The Registry of Societies of Malaysia.

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