The group implored the authorities to act with urgency following the release of a global report on marine trash by the Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit advocacy group based in Washington DC, that warns against a “rising tide of ocean debris.”
“The report affirms what we have been saying all along: our water bodies are turning into garbage dumps,” said Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
The EcoWaste Coalition has been photo documenting the unchecked dumping of discards in Metro Manila’s esteros to expose the poor enforcement of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which, among others, bans the unhealthy practice of littering and dumping.
“Pollution from land-based sources is damaging the marine environment and endangering the ability of our oceans to adapt and sustain life amid the warming climate. We need to put an end to the trashing of the oceans before it’s too late,” he added.
The “global snapshot of marine debris” shows cigarette butts, plastic bags and food wrappers and containers as the top three most littered items among the 43 items tracked during the International Coastal Cleanup in September 2008, which collected 11.4 million items in 6,485 sites in 104 countries, including the Philippines.
Of the 1,355,236 marine debris items gathered in the Philippines, the 679, 957 were plastic bags and 253,013 were paper bags.
The other top five items collected in the Philippine cleanup were food wrappers and containers (103,226), straws and stirrers (68,421), clothes and shoes (38,394), cigarettes and cigarette filters (34,154) and plastic beverage bottles (20,238).
The report of the Ocean Conservancy, the EcoWaste Coalition observed, reaffirms a key finding of the discards survey in Manila Bay that shows plastic debris as the most common marine litter.
In the discards survey that was jointly conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace in 2006, 76 percent of the garbage found floating in the historic bay were mostly plastic materials: 51 percent were plastic bags, 19 percent junk food wrappers and sachets, 5 percent Styrofoam and 1 percent hard plastics. The other items collected were rubber, 10 percent, and biodegradable materials, 13 percent.
Most of the plastic discards floating in the Manila Bay come from land-based sources, including from people who litter, visitors who leave their discards by the sea, households and other waste generators who fail to properly manage their waste, open trash containers, dumpsites and landfills, especially those located near water bodies.
Greenpeace explains that, in addition to harming marine animals, plastic waste pollution contributes to the loss of economic resources, especially in fishing, and to the shortfall of tourism opportunities. It incurs economic costs in the form of damage to ships, infrastructure or water flow systems; and it means more resources being poured into clean-up efforts and waste management.
To stop the flow of plastic into the marine environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urges the public to put into effect basic practices in ecological waste management, including waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling reuse and composting.
The eco-group also appeals to consumers to cut their use of plastic bags to the minimum, avoid single-use items and products in excessive packaging that usually end up being thrown, dumped or burned, and for all not to litter and be involved in community and coastal cleanup.
Please click to download the Ocean Conservancy report: http://www.oceanconservancy.org
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376