The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of public interest groups, pressed for the effective enforcement of ecological waste management as various groups prepare to mark the International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 20.
“The huge amount of garbage washed ashore is a sad indicator of our failure to unlearn the environmentally injurious habit of throwing discards anyplace we please despite laws and ordinances outlawing such ugly practice,” observed Ben Galindo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Sagip Pasig Movement.
“The nonstop ‘plasticization’ of our lifestyle, where almost everything is now packed in disposable plastic, exacerbates the trashing of Manila Bay as this ever-present packing material is unintentionally or knowingly discarded in streets, storm sewers, esteros, rivers and illegal dumps,” he added.
A waste audit conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace in 2006 revealed that plastic discards made up 76% of the floating trash found in Manila Bay, out of which 51% were plastic sando bags. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also disclosed in 2006 that every square mile of the ocean is littered with 46,000 pieces of floating plastic garbage.
The pervasiveness of plastic in the environment, especially in water bodies, should push the government, industry and civil society to adopting policies and measures that will influence consumer behavior and curb plastic use and the ensuing pollution, including conductig public
information drive on plastic and the environment, promoting and providing incentives for the use of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags, phasing out certain types of plastic and imposing environmental levy on plastic bags.
The evident plastic pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, should move the National Solid Waste Management Commission into accelerating the much-delayed identification and phase-out of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials as required by Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
In calling for renewed vigilance against excessive use and improper disposal of plastics, the EcoWaste Coalition enumerated 10 steps that consumers can take towards a healthier and safer environment:
1. Go for eco-friendly substitutes to single use plastic disposables.
2. Use bayong, old school bags or any reusable carry bags for shopping.
3. Ask your favorite store to stop the routine practice of dispensing plastic bags by making it a policy to ask the customer first if a plastic bag is required.
4. Avoid products in unnecessary packaging.
5. Work with your family members, neighbors and barangay leaders for better community recycling.
6. Reduce your waste size by separating at source and reusing and recycling more.
7. Do not litter at all times, pick up litter and dispose it correctly.
8. Help in raising community awareness and action against littering and dumping.
9. Pressure local authorities to enforce the law and punish chronic litterers.
10. Participate in community cleanup activities.
“The trashing of Manila Bay and other life-sustaining water bodies has to stop once and for all. Unless we get our acts together, the marine waste and pollution crisis will only worsen and endanger the health and future of humans and other creatures too,” the EcoWaste Coalition warned.
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