15 December 2008

Plastic Trash Blights Divisoria

Quezon City. Divisoria, the country’s number one bargain center, is drowning in plastic garbage as consumers go on a pre-Christmas spending spree.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, made this observation following market trash surveillance in Divisoria on December 7 and 14 as part of the group’s “Toxics-Free Paskong Pinoy” campaign.

“We find the plastic bags galore in Divisoria and the piles of mostly plastic rubbish along Recto Avenue and adjacent streets very disturbing. It's as if people find it perfectly okay to mess up the area with excess packaging materials and other discards,” Manny Calonzo, President of the
EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“The discarded plastics, including carry bags, wrappers and Styrofoam peanuts, shells and casings scattered willy nilly, serve only to aggravate the garbage, climate and financial fix our nation is in,” he added.

If the deluge of plastic trash in Divisoria is any indication, Calonzo said, the plastic consumption during the holiday shopping bonanza in the “tiangge,” markets and malls all over the country will be fearfully massive.

“It is high time we discontinued spoiling the festive season with avoidable trash and pollution,” Calonzo stated.

Government sources indicate that per capita generation of trash in urban places increases from 0.7 kilo to 1.2 kilos per day during the holidays. Based on the latest available data from the Metro Manila Development Authority, the metropolis generates some 7,600 tons of trash per day with plastics making up a big chunk.

The trend towards “plasticization,” as the EcoWaste Coalition puts it, is already taking a toll on the environment with illegally disposed plastics clogging the waterways and ultimately drifting into the already biologically dead Pasig River and Manila Bay.

Calonzo cited the discards survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace Southeast Asia in 2006 that found a flotilla of plastics bags and scraps ruining the famed Manila Bay.

The findings showed that 76% of the garbage floating in Manila Bay were mostly synthetic plastic materials, with plastic bags comprising 51%, sachets and junk food wrappers 19%, Styrofoams 5% and hard plastics 1%. The rest were rubber (10%) and biodegradable discards (13%).

Aside from causing urban flooding and marine pollution, the society’s voracious appetite for anything plastic is also driving climate change with the increased use of petrochemicals in the manufacture and transportation of plastic bags and packaging items.

To help mitigate the triple-pronged waste, climate and financial crisis, the EcoWaste Coalition advises consumers to refuse plastic bags and go for bayong or other reusable bags when they do their shopping for holiday necessities.

Vendors can also help by asking their customers if they need a plastic carry bag instead of automatically putting their merchandise into a disposable bag.

“Minimizing the use of plastic bags during the festive season will surely make Christmas shopping in Divisoria a more pleasant experience for the purse and the planet,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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