Supporting vulnerable groups for cities’ strengthened marine litter actions and EPR-readiness

The process is not easy.

Buri leaves are gathered and dried under the sun for two days. Then the seeds are removed and cut into strips with uniform width. The strips can be dyed, otherwise they maintain their natural color and are woven into bags. Once finished, the bags are varnished and dried under the sun for added protection and luster.

The process is not easy, but the women – chatting and laughing as they gather with dried buri leaves around them – are undeterred.

“First time ko gumawa ng buri bag, mahirap pero masaya. Proud ako sa amin dahil napagtagumpayan naming itong kabanatang ito ng aming buhay,” (It was my first time to make buri bags, it’s difficult but fun. I am proud of us that we are thriving in this phase in our lives)

Cheryl Pinohermoso, single parent of four

Cheryl is a caretaker at the sanitary landfill (SLF) of Calapan City. With her are other women SLF caretakers who are learning new skills as part of their social enterprise project that aims to reduce plastic litter. They are members of the Calapan City Association of Paleros, Inc. (CCAPI); initially composed of garbage collectors, the group is expanding its membership to support other individuals in the informal waste sector, including Cheryl.

“Makakatulong ang training na makilala ang aming grupo, at magkaroon kami ng dagdag na kita” (the training will help promote our organization and provide us additional income), she added.  Cheryl hopes to teach other women the craft, and to spread the advocacy on avoiding plastic bags and other single use plastics.

CCAPI is one of the 11 people’s organization and community-based organization (POs/CBOs) supported by UN-Habitat under the Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative, a project funded by the Government of Japan, that aims to reduce marine plastic litter. HOCCI works with the cities of Calapan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Legazpi, Manila, and Ormoc, in advancing marine litter actions.

Increasing capacities for waste recovery, one city at a time

Across the partner cities, UN-Habitat has provided various support for technical assistance and linkages.

In the City of Manila, Barangay 412 Women Waste Warriors also known as 3Ws, learned how to make cloth diapers. The group, whose members are skilled in sewing, will embark on producing, selling, and promoting the use of washable cloth diapers as an alternative to disposable plastic ones. In another barangay in Manila, Tagumpay 83Zero Waste Association or TEZWA, learned the ins and outs of junkshop business operations. TEZWA, which is composed of street sweepers, estero (creek) rangers, and barangay staff, are in the initial stages of putting up their community junkshop where they can earn from the recyclables they can collect from households in Barangay 830 and from those they recover from their weekly clean ups.

Groups of waste pickers from the Solid Waste Workers Association of Barangay Ipil (SWWABI) and Naungan Fisherfolk Association (NAFIAS) from Ormoc, conducted the Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) using the global Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT). Through the exercise, the members became more familiar with waste characterization, increasing their readiness for their planned social enterprise operations on eco-bag making, plastic shredding, and zero-waste refilling stations.

The technical assistance need not only come from HOCCI or external resource persons – cities have also found ways to learn from each other. Such as the case of Bantay Dagat Volunteers Association of Davao and representatives from the solid waste Management Office of Ormoc City, who visited the Eco-brick Facility operated by the Material Recovery Facility Cooperative of Cagayan de Oro City. The peer-to-peer learning exchange will help Bantay Dagat in their eco-bricks social enterprise project which be housed in their recycling facility.

Preparing local government units to participate in the EPR system

UN-Habitat’s support goes beyond enhancing cities’ waste management and marine litter reduction efforts, but also to strengthen their capacity to participate in a wider system that could benefit cities environmentally and financially – the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). 

With the passage of the Philippines’ EPR Act of 2022 signaling a closer collaboration between local waste management actors and the private sector, UN-Habitat organized a 2-day workshop and learning exchange on Waste Diversion Data Management for Local EPR Readiness. The workshop provided a platform to better understand the law and implementing rules and regulations, exchange knowledge on the local recyclables value chain in the six partner cities, and identify the data, material, and finance flows along the value chain.

“The obliged enterprises will reach out to local government units (LGUs) to involve you and partner with waste diverters all over the country to produce the waste diversion certificates to offset their plastic footprints. We are now here to address the other end of the EPR spectrum — the side of the waste  diversion, which is truly happening in the local level. It’s really at the local level where the real battle is happening when it comes to managing waste,

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)- Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Assistant Director Vizminda Osoro, stressing the opportunities for local government units to benefit from the EPR.

UN-Habitat continues to work with HOCCI partner cities in implementing their pilot projects on plastic 3Rs.


UN-Habitat is also working in parallel with national authorities in the upscaling of HOCCI experiences such as with the Department of Education to institutionalize the marine litter learning kit, with the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development in the development of the country’s circular economy research and development roadmap, with DENR-EMB in elaborating EPR readiness policies concerning LGUs, with the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau in mainstreaming marine litter reduction in protected area management plans across the country.

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