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Advocates urge for systems change, call for sustainable Zero Waste program

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Lifting the fog of the past that is 2020 and the seemingly unprecedented effect of government lockdowns and people staying inside their homes, experts have noticed a slight improvement in our air quality. At the start of the lockdowns, daily global carbon emissions went down by 17% starting April of the same year as compared to 2019. Researchers, however, put an underscore on the word temporary.

Temporary, because fossil fuel industries, including big plastic producers, have not really moved nor changed ways. As a derivative of the fossil fuel industry, plastic has a large carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle. Some are even taking advantage of the situation by pushing for band-aid solutions to the waste and plastic pollution crisis, and governments influenced by these corporations are swaying in the wrong direction. Everything just goes back to where it was, which entirely misses an opportunity we could have all achieved – Zero Waste.

Instead of just pausing on environmentally-damaging practices, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific is using the strength of the movement to celebrate the International Zero Waste Month this January. Leveraging its wide international network, GAIA boldly takes the lead to put genuine Zero Waste work into action in spite of the many false narratives fed by corporations, international financing institutions, and other governing bodies. Through science-based and proven solutions to waste, the alliance works on the premise that Zero Waste opens up opportunities to address bigger climate challenges. Zero Waste is climate action, and the Zero Waste Month with its theme “Zero Waste for Zero Emission” hopes to show just that.

Zero, then a Hero: What People Can Expect

GAIA and its members lined up initiatives to educate and spark conversations about waste management solutions. From gatherings, to forging alliances, to film festivals, and more. Through a showcase of ​​results-backed learning from experts and experienced individuals from around the world, the alliance aims to send the message that Zero Waste is one of the critical ways to achieve zero emissions, waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration is a false solution and a step backward, and that Zero Waste systems ensure just transition for all.

Here’s a quick look of the event highlights throughout the month of January here in the Philippines and across the region:.

Refuse Single-Use Day India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, January 6)
Zero Waste Olympiad (Philippines, January 6)
Zero Waste Film Fest – Digital (Online, January 9-31)
Davao People’s Forum on Alternatives for WtE Incineration (Philippines, January 9)
Launch of Zero Waste Journalist Network – Asia Pacific (Online, January 19)
Brand Audit and Waste Assessment (Philippines, January 25)
Media Briefing (Philippines, January 24)
International Zero Waste Cities Conference (Philippines, January 26-27)
Launch of Zero Waste Cities Network (Philippines, January 26)
Organics Fair (Philippines, January 26)
Zero-Waste Film Fest (India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam)
Zero Waste Tour (Philippines, January 28)
Waste Worker Appreciation Day (Philippines, January 28)
Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) Talk (Indonesia)
Campaign for Sustainable Glove Purchasing for Health Facilities (Southeast Asia)
Clean-up and Waste Assessment and Brand Audit (Cambodia, India)
Freedom in A Cup Fundraising Launch (Philippines)
Launch of Zero Waste Schools, Cafes, and Clinics (Nepal)
Zero Waste Consulting Services (Nepal)
Lobbying with stakeholders (Cambodia, India, Philippines)
Kuha sa Tingi 2nd phase (Philippines)
Street Play (India)
Zero Waste and Burn Not Mobile Exhibition (Philippines)
Zero Waste Creative Actions (India)
Zero Waste Documentary and Film Showing (Indonesia, India, Nepal, Vietnam)
Zero Waste Fair (Indonesia, Philippines)
Zero Waste Fora in Schools (Philippines)
Zero Waste Interactive Exhibit (Philippines)
Zero Waste March (Philippines)
Zero Waste Sessions and Street Plays in Colleges and Schools (India)
Zero Waste Store Promo (Hong Kong)
Zero Waste Writing Competition (Indonesia)

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible through the generous support of the Plastic Solutions Fund, 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), 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.

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