Sunday, December 5, 2010

Waste Audit shows plastic garbage as top polluter of Manila Bay‏

Results of a waste audit in Manila Bay organized by various green groups last Sunday reveals that plastic discards continue to pollute our world-famous sunset destination, comprising 75.5 percent of the trash collected.

As part of the 9th Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives [GAIA], Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, and 11 other civil society organizations conducted a follow up to their 2006 waste audit of the heavily-polluted Manila Bay.

Boats and crew from the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, also participated in the event.

Participants were divided into land and water teams. Land team collected litter along the shore of Manila Bay stretching from the Manila Yacht Club to the US Embassy, while the water team rode boats and collected flotsam offshore from the Yacht Club to Baseco Compound.

About 728 liters of waste was collected and segregated into 12 classifications, namely, plastic bags, composites, polystyrene, hard plastics, plastic bottles, hazardous wastes, rubber, metal, glass, biodegradables, nappies, and other discards.

Of the 728 liters of collected debris, 75.55 percent was composed of plastic discards, mostly plastic bags and polystyrene products.

Biodegradables made up far second at 10.99 percent; glass, 5.77 percent; metals, 2.2 percent; hazardous waste, 1.38 percent; and rubber, .55 percent.

GAIA pointed out that in their 2006 waste audit results, plastic discards also ranked number one at 76.9 percent among the various categories of solid waste polluting the celebrated Manila Bay.

“Considering the outgoing current, we still collected quite a volume of trash and it is unfortunate that plastic items led by plastic bags and styro products remain to be the prime visible pollutants of Manila Bay.

"Our findings today reinforced what all of us already know: plastics is a problem and our penchant for patronizing disposable products magnifies this problem,” disclosed Gigie Cruz of GAIA. Fortunately, there are now bills in Congress which propose to phase out, ban and tax plastic bags, and they have our full support,” she said.

GAIA called HB No. 127 authored by Rep. Al Francis Bichara, HB No. 651 by Rep. Sonny Angara, and HB No. 2109 by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. which are respectively imposing plastic bag levy, mandating the use of recyclable or biodegradable materials for the packaging of consumer products; and banning the use of plastic bags in groceries, restaurants and other establishments as “important laws which time has come”.

“We can only do so much cleaning visible trash, but toxic discharges which are actually more harmful remain invisible. In line with Zero Waste principles, Greenpeace is calling for a mandatory pollution disclosure system that will be the first step to eliminate these hidden toxics in our waters,” expressed Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Lending their experience in identifying wastes, members of Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative, an organization of wastepickers [also called informal recyclers] in Smoky Mountain, also helped in the audit.

The waste audit was also conducted as part of the 10th anniversary of both GAIA and Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

GAIA was founded 10 years ago in South Africa to mobilize grassroots action against incinerators and other dirty waste technologies and advance sustainable and just solutions such as Zero Waste and Clean Production.

The regional Greenpeace office, on the other hand, was established in 2000 following the visit of the Rainbow Warrior for the “Toxics Free Asia Tour” in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.


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