Quezon City – A waste audit conducted by ecogroups and youth groups from Quezon City, Cavite and Laguna revealed that plastic discards are the top debris found in Laguna De Bay.
The audit was conducted in observance of this year’s International Coastal Clean-up Day, and was led by EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace, with support from Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura (MALAYA), Laguna Youth Development Affairs and youth volunteers from schools in Laguna.
Wastes were collected off and along the shore of Laguna De Bay in Aplaya, Calamba City, Laguna.
A total of 1,755 liters of wastes were collected and categorized into 14 classifications: plastic/sando bags, plastic wrappers, composites, polystyrene, hard plastics, plastic bottles, rubber, metals, glass, hazardous waste, biodegradable, dry paper, diapers/ napkins and others.
Of the total discards collected, plastic materials accounted for the highest percentage at 55.56%, with plastic bags topping the list at 22.79%. Other discards such as cigarette butts, cloths/rags and sponges ranked second with 14.81%. Biodegradable wastes ranked third at 11.40%.
In 2009, Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition and Laguna Youth Development Affairs conducted a similar activity along Laguna de Bay in Pila, Laguna where plastic bags accounted for 560 liters or 25.51%, the highest percentage in a total of 2,195 liters of wastes collected then.
The groups noted that plastic discards are not only a problem in Laguna de Bay but also in Manila Bay, where waste audits conducted in 2010 and 2006 also showed plastic bags topping the list of wastes collected.
“In our experience from audits done in previous years, plastic discards especially plastic bags continue to proliferate in our waterways,” said Gigie Cruz of GAIA. “It only shows how our throw-away mentality and continued patronage of conveniently disposable stuff choke the life out of both land and water bodies”, Cruz added.
“The audit results strongly substantiate the ordinances by Calamba and other Laguna LGUs banning plastic bags as a way to alleviate Laguna de Bay’s solid and toxic waste problems”, said Troy Lacsamana, head of Task Force Plastics of EcoWaste Coalition.
The groups belie claims that “oxodegradable” plastic bags are better alternative to conventional plastic bags for the fundamental reason, among other things, that it sustains our throw-away mentality.
The groups also warned against a draft bill repealing existing and more stringent local ordinances banning plastic bags. The proposed HB 4840, authored by Hon. Oscar Malapitan, et. al, will “water down genuine efforts of local government units to reduce the volume of plastic wastes, and manage their solid waste more efficiently and effectively”, added Lacsamana.
Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia added that, “Laguna de Bay suffers not only from solid waste, but also from pollution caused by industries found along its coast. A Pollution Release and Transfer Register should be set-up where industrial discharges are disclosed to the public in order help them protect themselves from toxic effluents released in the water.
“While it is good to clean-up our water bodies, it is far better that policies and systems in reducing and eventually removing these sources of pollutants to our water resources should be put in place,” added Baconguis.
Participants in this year’s waste audit are AMA Computer College-Sta. Cruz, Federation of Student Leaders of Laguna, EcoWaste Coalition, GAIA, Greenpeace, Laguna Youth Development Affairs, Laguna Science and Technology College-San Pedro, Laguna State Polytechnic University-Siniloan, Laguna University, MALAYA-Cavite and Philippine Women’s University – Sta. Cruz.
Note to the editors:
*Plastic Bag/ Sando Bag 22.79%
Others (cigarette butts, sponge, clothes etc. 14.81%
*Plastic wrappers 6.84%
*Styrofoam/ Polystyrene 5.98%
Hazardous Waste 5.41%
Dry Paper/ Dry Cartons 5.41%
*Hard Plastic (HDPE/LDPE) 4.27%
*Plastic Bottle (PET) 2.56%
*Diapers/ Napkins 1.99%
Metal/ Cans 1.42%