Negros Or. dive haven to go ‘zero waste’

Dauin town, the scuba diving and resort capital of Negros Oriental province, envisions the adoption of a municipality-wide zero waste policy in keeping with its thrust of being a sustainable tourist destination in Central Visayas.

The municipal government led by Mayor Galicano Truita recently held a coastal cleanup which involved local officials, employees, security personnel, barangay volunteers and tourism stakeholders under the Dauin Resorts Association and the Negros Oriental Dive Association.

The event, which had some 150 participants from eight barangays, also had a simultaneous underwater cleanup by volunteer scuba divers from the Philippine National Police and from the Bureau of Fire Protection.

The cleanup was part of the observance of the International Coastal Cleanup Day, and included an educational component which integrated the environmental, waste management and upcycling initiatives within the municipality.

The coastal municipality takes pride in its rich ridge to reef ecosystem because of its forested uplands and lush marine life.

According to Truita, Dauin’s new environmental direction is inspired by the citation received by its main tourism spot, Apo Island, which was recently awarded as the country’s first “zero waste” island barangay by the Zero Waste Cities Project (ZWCP) because of its community-based upcycling livelihood projects.

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 encourages solid waste management at the grassroots level, enabling waste reduction policies, and creating income opportunities in the handling and processing of recyclable materials.

The island currently has four purok-level material recovery facilities which integrate solid wastes into construction aggregates, resort furnishings and decorative items.

One of the country’s sought-after scuba diving sites, Apo boasts of a robust marine biodiversity with lush coral gardens, sea turtles, school of jacks and other aquatic resources.

The 74-hectare island is also recognized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as a Protected Seascape and Landscape.

In 2019, the area also bagged the prestigious seventh Para El Mar Awards as the most outstanding marine protected area under the government’s National Integrated Protected Areas System.

Named by Sport Diver Magazine as among the world’s top 100 diving spots, Apo is habitat to over 650 fish and 400 coral species, from tiny bubbles to huge gorgonian sea fans and brain corals.

Taking its Earth-friendly way of life a notch higher, the island village is pilot testing the use of organic shampoos and body wash, lime soap bars, organic liquid laundry and dishwashing solutions to gradually eliminate plastic waste sachets.

The social enterprise is a partnership with Silver Reef Dive Resort (SRDR) and Plastic Life Sucks which will supply refillable pump bottles and biodegradable bathroom and washing essentials.

SRDR is a prime mover of the Dauin Resorts Association and the Dauin Tourism Board.

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