MANILA, Philippines — The government should shift its focus to the recovery and reduction of waste rather than “false solutions” such as clean-up efforts to address the plastic pollution problem in Manila Bay, environmentalists said.
Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of environmental group EcoWaste Coalition, said that end-of-pipe solutions such as clean-up drives are “not sustainable.”
“We don’t need to do clean-ups regularly or yearly. Clean-up is a waste of money actually because people think that it’s okay to litter since there will be a clean-up. It’s not sustainable. We don’t have to do clean-up if there’s a law banning single-use plastics and there’s proper enforcement of Republic Act 9003,” Lucero said in a briefing Thursday.
RA 9003 refers to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which requires, among others, the mandatory segregation of solid waste at source.
“We don’t need false solution. What we need is the promotion of refill, reduce and alternative delivery system for the proper collection of waste and implementation of solid waste management,” she said.
A study conducted by EcoWaste in partnership with researchers from the University of Santo Tomas and the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas found that 87% of the uncollected waste from five barangays in the capital region end up in Manila Bay.
These barangays include Brgy. Tangos South in Navotas City, Brgy. San Agustin in Malabon City, Brgy. 649 in City of Manila, Brgy. 76 in Pasay and Brgy. San Dionisio in Parañaque.
Of the mismanaged waste in waterways, around 23% are single-use plastics.
Lucero also suggested that the government must focus on the development and implementation of an “accurate and science-informed” National Waste Recovery Plan as framed in RA 9003. She also called on the government to declare single-use plastics as non-environmentally accepted products (NEAP).
Plastic soft drink straws and coffee stirrers are now included in the list of NEAP, which means they may be banned soon. But environmental groups said the move is not enough to solve the plastic pollution problem in the country.
Lucero also criticized the dumping of fresh coat of crushed dolomite rocks along a portion of Roxas Boulevard, saying Filipinos do not need this “cosmetic beautification.”
For Marlon Pareja, a researcher from DLSU-Dasmariñas, the overlaying of dolomite sand will not do anything to help reduce solid waste in the area.
This is part of a P389-million “beach nourishment” project—a component of the government’s rehabilitation program for the degraded bay.
Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones earlier said that the rehabilitation does not only focus on the baywalk but also addresses problems in different tributaries and settlements.
Environmental groups opposed the addition of pulverized dolomite rocks, saying it is an expensive effort that will not solve Manila Bay’s environmental problems.
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