Good habits are ones that are formed early in life and make a lasting impact on an individual’s core values.

Such has been the idea behind Dole Philippines’ latest sustainability initiative, the Sunshine Heroes campaign—a CSR and sustainability drive centered on engaging the schoolchildren and instilling within them the passion for embracing sustainability, through recycling, as a lifestyle and a progressive movement.

“Recycling is a habit that needs to form early. We need to teach kids that all the trash they see laying around our streets and clogging our waterways is because we need more recycling and less trash,” says Ashvin Subramanyam, Vice President for Marketing and Innovations for Dole Asia.

Youth power in full force as Dole Philippines reignites recycling movement
Youth power in full force as Dole Philippines reignites recycling movement

The campaign draws inspiration from the power of the youth to influence their respective households to change behaviors, both as consumers and as sustainability advocates. “We chose to engage the youth because of their role in helping change mindsets about recycling and proper waste management,” explains Subramanyam.

A program spearheaded in partnership with Gone Adventurin’ and Mother Earth Foundation, Dole Philippines’ Sunshine Heroes campaign involves putting up material recovery facilities (MRFs) in selected schools in Metro Manila. Students will be requested to bring household recyclable wastes to the facility. The trash will then be sold to local recyclers once it reaches a certain amount. Money generated from this program will go directly to the school to help fund other school activities.

Making every Filipino a recycling hero

With its long-standing commitment to spreading the sunshine for generations to come, Dole Philippines’ Sunshine Heroes campaign is reigniting the idea of household recycling by educating the youth and shaping them into future environmental leaders.

The challenge behind the campaign stems from the fact that the current generation of young adults and household decision-makers were not raised in a recycling culture. Changing these habits, based on global experience, takes at least a generation.

Every time you throw away a plastic bottle, a soda can, a tetra pack of fruit juice, or a to-go meal pack from your favorite fast-food restaurant, you need to realize that you are actually losing a lot more than just a handful of trash,” Subramanyam adds. “Through this campaign, we are equipping the youth better to understand the importance of making recycling a life-long habit and advocacy.”

Part of Dole Philippines’ sustainability drive involves conducting a series of recycling workshops and forums aimed at educating kids about the importance of recycling.

Another fun aspect of the campaign will be the introduction of four (4) recycling characters to promote a more engaging way for Filipinos to understand the idea of recycling and sustainability. Each character—inspired by endemic creatures here in the Philippines like the carabao, the Philippine Eagle, the pawikan, and the tarsier—represents a type of ecosystem that forms the core of Dole Philippines’ waste recycling initiative: trees, air, water, and land.

Down the road, we hope that other schools will be able to replicate this sustainability model. Making this model a staple in every school can make a lasting impact in terms of advocating for proper waste management nationwide.”

Why recycling failed in the PH

Here in Southeast Asia, rapid urbanization posed a huge challenge among developing nations in terms of the enabling cities to meet rising demands for urban services, particularly in terms of proper waste management. This was partly the reason why, according to a recent study, a great portion of recyclable packaging materials around the world is used only once, while 95% of its total value (about $80-$120 billion/year) is lost to the economy.1

While the commercial community has embraced recycling, it has not caught on in many Filipino households, thus creating big waste disposal problems for the rest of the country.

Household recyclable wastes have been among the biggest economic staples. Despite this, these materials also pose a serious threat to the environment due to the Filipinos’ lack of proper understanding about recycling. This problem may be attributed to the eventual rise of the “throwaway and convenience culture.”2 The clamor for “convenience” among consumers has led to a lot of products being reduced to smaller packs, thus requiring the use of larger amounts of disposable—and recyclable—materials.

In turn, this has resulted to the country ending up producing around 40,000 tons of garbage every day—a figure that easily translates to about 14.6 million tons per year. Experts say that at least 70 percent of these wastes are generated by households, while about 75 percent of this total amount can actually be recycled.3

Public awareness and participation are vital keys to successful waste management measures,”4 ends Subramanyam. “For us at Dole Philippines, recycling is all about embracing the idea of sustainability as a way of life and a sustained advocacy. By educating and engaging our youth, we hope that can help us champion recycling and, in the long run, build environmentally-responsible Filipino households.”5

Learn more about how Dole Philippines is honing tomorrow’s environmental leaders from today’s generation of young Filipinos through its Sunshine Heroes campaign by visiting

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