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Public urged to eliminate plastic waste

MANILA, May 30 — To mark the end of the Ocean Month and to herald the beginning of the Environment Month, a group campaigning for Zero Waste called on the general public to shun the indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic bags.

The EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for public participation in the ecological management of discards after heavy rains again triggered flash floods in the metropolis, reminiscent of the epic "Ondoy" flood that devastated the country last year.

“Carelessly thrown plastic bags block the drainage systems and waterways and will find their way into the country’s biggest 'landfill', the Manila Bay, causing massive marine pollution,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Single-use plastic bags are not only littered in streets and rivers.

Nowadays, we find the sky littered with colorful plastic bags that are used as fiesta buntings without any thought about their baleful environmental effects,” he added.

“We now know how plastic bags are exacerbating our nation’s garbage woes and how illegally thrown plastic discards are adding to our people sufferings in times of floods and weather disturbances,” he stated.

“Let us not forget the lessons of Ondoy and together cut our waste size, starting with single-use plastic bags,” he requested the public.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged Filipinos from all walks of life to reject all forms of littering and dumping, reduce trash and make it a habit to separate discards at source for reusing, recycling and composting.

It further asked the incoming administration of President-apparent Noynoy Aquino to act on the plastic waste problem.

Noynoy, in his response to the pre-election green survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace, said that he supports a ban on single use plastic bags and other plastic-based disposable containers.

“Over the longer term we must have greater use of biodegradable materials for packaging and containers, and have a sound plan for recovery and recycling of plastics,” Noynoy wrote in his response to the said survey.

A discards survey in 2006 involving EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace volunteers shows that synthetic plastic materials constitute 76 percent of the floating trash items in Manila Bay, with plastic bags comprising 51 percent; sachets and junk food wrappers, 19 percent; styrofoam containers, five percent; and hard plastics, one percent.

The rest of the rubbish found in Manila Bay consisted of rubber (10 percent) and biodegradable discards (13 percent).

Another study published in 2009 by the US-based Ocean Conservancy revealed that 679,957 of over 1.2 million pieces of marine litter of various types that were gathered in seaside areas during the 2008 International Coastal Clean Up Day in the country were plastic bags. (PNA)

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