Int’l environment advocacy groups worry impacts of plastic pollution in PH oceans



CEBU CITY — International environmental advocacy groups such as Oceana, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) with other civil society alliances are worried on the impacts of plastic pollution in the country’s oceans as plastic management specifically on single-use plastics is increasingly becoming the main problem.

According to Dr. Deo Florence Onda, a Marine Scientist, Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines-Dilliman that the Philippines is still on the top 10 contributors of mismanage plastics, producing 1.01 million metric tons annually with 0.28-0.75 MMT/year leak to the oceans.

“Plastic management is the main problem, specifically on single-use plastics.  These are hard to recuperate, use only once and does not degrade/decompose causing havoc in other ecosystems,” Onda bared in a virtual webinar in June this year.

Onda bared that 20 percent of plastics in the marine environment come from ships, tourism cruise lines, and fishing vessels but 80 percent come from land-based sources and 65 percent of mismanaged wastes come from illegal dumpsites and the remaining 35 percent are sanitary landfills.  “We account for only the managed but not the mismanaged plastics,” he added,

Onda’s presentation showed that an average of 427,050 MT of plastic waste generated by eight cities in Metro Manila in 2014 and these are the cities of Malabon, Navotas, Manila, Paranaque, Quezon, Marikina, Pasig, and Taguig.

He went on that waste collection increased from 8,907MT in 2014 to 9,286MT per day in 2018 and single use plastics continue to increase despite imposition of plastic ban by LGUs.  Main contributor of marine plastics are the rivers near Manila Bay–- the Macabebe Tullahan and Pasig River are top 3 polluters in terms of riverine input, Onda noted.

Floating plastics in Manila Bay at 40,000 pieces of per square kilometer in Manila Bay with highest accumulation of marine plastic from Manila ended up in Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), then Baseco and Noveleta. Onda’s presentation revealed.

IPEN executive director Chinkie Peliňo Golle called on the government to act on preventing the impacts of toxic chemicals in plastic production, use, and disposal to also address their effects to the environment and public health.

According to IPEN’s newly released report presented in a virtual forum in June that plastic materials and microplastic particles polluting the waters were found to be responsible for serious harm to aquatic life that then threatens the country’s food safety and security.

The report also emphasized that most plastic chemicals are toxic, and microplastics attract, concentrate, and magnify other persistent toxic chemicals from the surrounding aquatic environment onto their surfaces.

Oceana vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos on the other hand said several countries in the world are already acting to reduce microplastics in the environment.  A 2017 United Nations resolution discussed microplastics and the need for regulations to reduce this hazard to the oceans, their wildlife, and human health.

Ramos said that Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 prohibits the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials and the importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials but implementation by the concerned government agencies of the law remains lacking.

According to Ramos that marine conservation groups, with citizens and other civil society alliances, served Notices to Sue to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) in June this year for failing to address the country’s plastic pollution problem.

“More than two weeks have passed, and we are still waiting for the responses of the government agencies.  If they do not provide the necessary mandated action to mitigate this huge problem of plastic pollution, then we will pursue all available legal remedies as provided for by the Constitution and the various laws in the country,” Ramos said.