MANILA, PHILIPPINES — In celebration of Plastic-Free July, WWF-Philippines and BDO Unibank teamed up on a two-day coastal cleanup at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), engaging almost 300 employees from the BDO Unibank Inc.
The clean-up activity brought together environmental conservation enthusiasts from the banking company who volunteered to collect waste along LPPCHEA’s southwest portion called Long Island. A Ramsar site, LPPCHEA is a 175-hectare protected area of mangroves, mudflats, and coastal areas that serves as a migration site for birds such as the Rufous night heron. Ramsar sites are globally recognized wetlands with ecological, economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. LPPCHEA is one of eight Ramsar sites in the country.
“Part of BDO’s sustainability journey is to develop sustainability leaders and advocates among our over 39,000-plus employees,” said Marla Alvarez, BDO Unibank Vice President and Head of Sustainability Office. “One powerful way to do this is to bring our expertise, time, and compassion to our local communities to help address poverty, hunger, education, environmental, and financial literacy challenges. We find ways to create a more equitable and responsible future for all.”
WWF-Philippines’ Education for Sustainable Development team provided an orientation on the different kinds of waste that could be found along coasts, instructions on the segregation and collection methods, and tools such as gloves, sacks, and log sheets.
Each of the 20 groups had sacks containing separate categories of waste (single-use plastic bags, food packaging, personal hygiene items, PET bottles, glass, styrofoam, cloth, wood, rubber materials, and water hyacinths) to ensure proper segregation.
“Sustainability is more than just an event. It is a commitment at the very heart of the organization. Our engaged employee volunteers serve as the pulse that ensures the continuing fulfillment of that commitment,” said Evelyn Salagubang, BDO Unibank Senior Vice President and Head of Human Resources Group.
Over 2,200 kilograms of waste were collected in the two days.
“We hope that in our own small way, we are able to contribute to the attainment of a sustainable and resilient future,” said Mario Deriquito, President of the BDO Foundation. “Encouraged by the social responsiveness and volunteerism of the BDO Unibank community, we look forward to embarking on more environmental initiatives in other parts of the country.”
The clean-up activity was an opportunity for BDO volunteers to act firsthand on the issue of plastic pollution in a place not far from their homes and workplaces. The activity highlighted the importance of a full system approach to reducing plastic use, increasing collection and recycling, and preventing plastic waste from ending up in the environment.
“The LPPCHEA is a critical ecosystem facing many threats including compounding waste and plastic washing up on its shores,” said Katherine Custodio, WWF-Philippines’ Executive Editor.
“It is vital for us at WWF-Philippines to work with all sectors to accelerate action against plastic pollution, particularly in critical habitats. We thank the 291 BDO volunteers who joined us to usher in plastic-free July.”