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The hideous head of plastics pollution

Manila Standard

THE Kenya-based United Nations Environment Program or UNEP is raising the alarm on the severity of the global plastics crisis.

Environmentalists warn plastics, which include materials like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine and sulfur, are polluting our planet and choking our ocean, harming human health, and damaging ecosystems vital to our livelihoods.

For instance, UNEP is highlighting the networks of everyday people, coastal workers, and communities who are spearheading solutions to beat plastics pollution.

A plastic substance is any of numerous organic synthetic or processed materials mostly thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers of high molecular weight that can be made into objects, films, or filaments.

UNEP says 12 million metric tons of plastic find their way into the ocean every single year; 9.5 million tons of this enter the ocean from the land with 1.75 tons being chucked into the sea directly from the fishing and shipping industry.

Another ghastly sight is the roughly 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons.

The Philippines, on the ball regarding this type of pollution, passed in 2023 a critical national law that advances this legal framework to combat plastics pollution much further.

Titled the “Extended Producer Responsibility” law, the legislation requires mandatory EPR for businesses with assets worth over ₱100 million.

Authorities are aware the plastics waste crisis in this nation of 114 million people has reached a critical point, with challenges and implications.

These include:

Staggering Volumes: The Philippines produces an estimated 2.7 million tons of plastics waste annually. A significant portion ends up in landfills and different bodies of water.

Marine Impact: About 20 percent of this plastics waste find their way into the ocean, devastating marine ecosystems and endangering marine life.

Health Hazards: The improper disposal of plastics poses health risks to communities, as toxic chemicals filtrate into the soil and water.

Urban Eyesore: Plastics pollution has transformed once-beautiful landscapes into unsightly and polluted areas, impacting tourism and quality of life.

We are encouraged the government is on tiptoe in addressing plastics pollution which continues to affect communities, including but not limited to people in vulnerable areas, like highly urbanized cities and coastal towns, who bear most of the pressure.

Fishing communities face declining catches due to plastics contamination in waters and coastal areas.

Plastics pollution contributes to health issues, particularly among marginalized communities living near polluted areas.

And tourism, a vital sector for the Philippines, suffers as pristine beaches are marred by plastic debris.

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