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Manila Bay Continues To Be a Free Dumping Ground, 12 Million Pieces of Marine Litter Found

Marine Litter Management

Quezon City — It is an open secret that the 190 km of coastline of Manila Bay has been plagued by marine litter and has been treated as a free dumping ground. Year after year, this problem is aggravated by factors such as ineffective waste management by the cities surrounding it and overproduction and consumption. A new study shows how alarming the situation is.

A new study presented by the Ecowaste Coalition, a toxic-free and zero-waste watchdog group, in partnership with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), De LaSalle University-Dasmarinas, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, showed that the coastline of the Bay is inundated with 12 million pieces of marine litters, 90% of which are plastic litter. Most of the plastic litter collected was hard, film, and other types of plastic, the majority of which are single-use plastics (SUPs).

The study entitled “Marine Litter Monitoring Survey in Manila Bay: Year 1 (2023)” report, a component of the Enhancement of Marine Litter Management in Manila Bay, Philippines (2021-2025) project, aimed to classify marine litter in the 10 coastal areas along Manila Bay covered by the study, to compare marine litter during dry and wet months, and identify top items of marine litter based on actual counts. Through quantitative comparative research covering 10 areas in the National Capital Region, Region 3, and Region 4A, the study concluded that:

  1. Around 90% of all collected marine litter along the coastline areas are different types of plastic. Most of them are single-use utensils, sachets, and wrappers.
  2. 11 million out of 12 million estimated marine litter collected along the coast of Manila Bay are plastics.
  3. The collected marine litter on the coastline of Manila Bay during dry and wet months did not show any significant difference in terms of counts and weight.
  4. It is estimated that nearly 60% of the weight of marine litter on the coastline of Manila Bay was from the weight of plastic litter. Fiber, film, and hard plastics have a combined weight of more than 240 metric tons.
Marine Litter Management
A new study by Ecowaste Coalition, Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), De LaSalle University Dasmarinas, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shows that the Manila Bay is polluted by 12 million pieces of marine litter, 90% of which are single use plastics.

This new study confirms that the country is highly dependent on SUPs as a “sachet economy” is the norm. Various studies have already shown that SUPs are destructive not only to our environment but also to human health. As plastics break down and become microplastics and nanoplastics, they find their way into the food we eat which leads to a range of toxicological effects, including reproductive abnormalities, oxidative stress, and gastrointestinal dysfunction.

“The publication of this survey report is important because it is one of the first comprehensive comparative studies of marine litter on the coast of Manila Bay. This can be the basis for public and private institutions on their programs and activities relating to Manila Bay. Furthermore, this can guide our policy makers and authorities in crafting policies in managing litter that ends up in the Bay” Dr. Johnny A. Ching, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research, DLSU-Dasmarinas.

Manila Bay is bordered by the coastal cities of the National Capital Region or NCR (Manila, Pasay, Paranaque, Las Piñas, and Navotas), and the coastal provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan in Region 3, and Cavite in Region 4A. It is intersected by the 7 major rivers, draining 26 catchment basins. These rivers are the major sources of marine pollution in the Bay.

Reacting to the enormous number of plastic litter found in the Bay, Ecowaste stated that, “We are alarmed that marine litter, mostly from single use plastics, are stuck in the coastal areas of Manila Bay. Studies show that single use plastics pose a grave danger for vulnerable communities and is an escalating crisis for the environment, health, and climate. The study shows that we have a long way to go to eliminate the ubiquitous problem of single-use plastics and marine litter as a whole”. Von Vladimir L. Defuntorum, Project Lead, Enhancement of Marine Litter Management in Manila Bay, Philippines (2021-2025) Project, Ecowaste Coalition.

Hopeful that this new study on the marine litter in Manila Bay will be of great baseline data for different sectors, KOICA added that “With this baseline study, we are optimistic that it will contribute to the deepening of our understanding of the marine litter problem. We hope that this study will lead to the execution of an impactful cost-effective policies and management practices towards prevention and reduction of marine pollution in the Manila Bay by urging a multi sectoral initiative to strengthen the environmental protection system in the Bay” Ms. Yuna Lee, Manager, International Cooperation Team, Our Sea of East Asia Network (OSEAN).

Ecowaste Coalition highlights that this survey report study is one of the first studies that they will conduct that aims to classify the marine litter trend in Manila Bay during wet and dry seasons.

EcoWaste Coalition
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