18 February 2015. Quezon City. “A recent study on plastic wastes generated by coastal countries and entering the oceans should serve as a wake up call to the Philippine government, the industry, and the public in general after the report ranked the country 3rd.”
Zero waste and anti-plastic bag campaign network EcoWaste Coalition released this statement to the media today in relation to a study, “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean”, which was published in the journal Science last week.
The report which placed Philippines 3rd highest plastic waste generator had China at the top followed by Indonesia.
According to the study authors, “Population size and the quality of waste management systems largely determine which countries contribute the greatest mass of uncaptured waste available to become plastic marine debris.”
“This is what we’ve been talking about for years now!,” exclaimed Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“Almost fifteen years of poor implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) and unheeded calls for national ban on the undoubtedly problematic and persistent plastic bags apparently helped a lot in putting the country at the 3rd place in the study’s embarrassing list,” added Lucero.
“We are a nation of seafarers and fishers, not sea destroyers polluting the oceans with plastics and toxics,” she said.
In 2014, during the follow up to their 2006 and 2010 waste audits of the Manila Bay, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, and Mother Earth Foundation still found that plastics topped the list of the bay’s marine debris at 61.9%; of this, 23.2% are plastic bags.
The same group’s waste audits in 2006 and 2010 yielded similar results: among plastic products, plastic bags were the main garbage contributor in terms of volume, comprising 51.4 and 27.7 percent, respectively, of the debris in Manila Bay.
On a global scale, the “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean” study has calculated that plastic debris reaching the oceans from 192 coastal countries in 2010 was somewhere between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons. The amount came from what the report estimated as “275 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste generated in said coastal countries that year.”
Dr. Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia, the study’s lead author, said in a news report in a more visual way that “the quantity entering the ocean is equal to about five plastic grocery bags full of plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.”
The study suggests that some 17.5 million tonnes a year, that is 155 million tonnes between now and then, could be entering the oceans by 2025 if nothing is done to check the situation.
Whether we have a clear picture of the magnitude of the frightening impact of this marine plastic pollution, Kara Lavender Law, co-author of the study, frankly said in an interview with Science: “I don’t think we can conceive of the worst-case scenario. We really don’t know what this plastic is doing.”
Another co-author of the study, Roland Geyer, said that to clean the oceans of plastic was not likely; the only solution was “turning off the tap”.