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Study of plastics problem in Pasig River pushed

/ 05:01 AM April 08, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The World Bank Group is in talks with the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission for an in-depth look into the plastic pollution problem that hounds Pasig River and its tributaries as part of efforts to curb marine plastics and support proper waste management.

In an interview, World Bank senior environmental engineer Gerardo Parco said the group recently reached an agreement with the commission to survey the 27-kilometer stretch of the waterway that cuts across Metro Manila.

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Although the deal had yet to be formally signed, Parco said they already received a grant from Korean Green Growth Trust Fund, a partnership between the World Bank Group and the Korean government that was focused on green projects.

He refused, however, to disclose the exact amount of the grant.

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During a recent conference on marine plastics hosted by the World Bank and Norwegian Embassy in Manila, senior environmental specialist Katelijn van den Berg said the research would include surveys on the sources and impact of plastic waste in at least five areas located along the river.

The study would also determine the types of most prevalent plastics, as well as the entry points of these pollutants in the waterways. Van Den Berg said the research would also look into the brands of discharged plastics.

Parco said technologies such as remote satellites and drones would be used to assess the plastic waste.

Two- to three-year project

“The data that would be gathered will then be used for policy dialogue with the government,” he said, noting that the project was expected to begin before the year-end and would last for two to three years.

According to a 2017 study by researchers from the United States and the Netherlands, Pasig River dumps over 63,000 tons of plastics — equivalent to the weight of over 10,000 elephants — into the ocean every year.

This makes the river the world’s second worst contributor of ocean plastic, relative to its drainage area.

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Plastic pollution remains one of the country’s perennial environmental problems due to its high dependence on single-use plastics for food packaging and hygienic products.

A waste assessment report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives in March reveals that Filipinos throw almost 164 million pieces of plastic sachets daily. Yearly, over 59 billion pieces of sachets are used in the country.

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TAGS: Gerardo Parco, Pasig River, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, plastic pollution
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