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Study shows Pasig River is the world’s top plastic polluter of oceans

Study shows Pasig River is the world’s top plastic polluter of oceans

FreebieMNL - Study shows Pasig River is the world's top plastic polluter of oceans
FreebieMNL - Study shows Pasig River is the world's top plastic polluter of oceans
(Image: Greenpeace Philippines)

This, despite several attempts to rehabilitate the metropolitan river in recent years.

Of the 50 top polluting rivers around the world, the Pasig River ranks as the #1 carrier of plastic pollutants into the ocean, a recent study by the Netherland-based Ocean Cleanup revealed.

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit engineering environmental organization that develops technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans and intercept it in rivers before it can reach the ocean. The research, which was reported by the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission (CCC), was published in the Science Advances journal last April.

The research also showed that at least 18 other rivers found in the Philippines were also included in the list of waterways that contribute the largest amount of plastic pollution. These include the Tullahan RiverMeycauayan RiverPampanga RiverLibmanan RiverRio Grande de Mindanao RiverAgno RiverAgusan RiverParañaque RiverIloilo RiverImus RiverZapote RiverCagayan de Oro RiverDavao River, Malaking Tubig RiverPasay’s Tambo storm drainJalaur RiverCagayan River, and Hamulauon River.

Of the 1,656 rivers that the organization reviewed worldwide, the research identified 466 that are in the Philippines. This means that a quarter of the world’s rivers found to be responsible for 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution are located in the Philippines.

What’s more, the study found that the Philippines is the largest contributing country, with at least 4,820 rivers emitting 356,371 metric tons of plastic waste to oceans every year. Of this annual sum, the 27-kilometer Pasig River, which snakes through the densely-dwelled Metro Manila, accounts for about 63,000 metric tons – almost a fifth of the total.

(Image: AFP/Noel Celis)

In coming up with their findings, researchers from the Ocean Cleanup created models that consider several factors such as the distance between the rivers and ocean, weather, terrain slope, waste management practices, geography, population density, and climate. 

Having considered these, the study suggested that coastal countries like the Philippines have a higher chance of plastic permeating the oceans due to the short distance from land-based sources to rivers, and rivers to oceans. Plastic also flows more easily into rivers from paved urban areas than it does in rivers from forests, and due to our wet climate, plastic waste also tends to travel farther.

In its report of the research, the Climate Change Commission expressed “extreme concern” over the mismanagement of plastic waste in the country, and echoed its calls to “implement measures to regulate and halt the production of unnecessary plastic-made” instruments. 

The commission also shed light on House Bill No. 9147 or the “Single-Use Plastics Products Regulation Act”, which was recently approved on its second reading in the Lower House. When passed into law, the bill shall effectively address the country’s high rate of plastic waste leakage through a nationwide phaseout of single-use plastics and implementation of producers’ responsibility schemes.

“The agency strongly urges the public to use alternatives and adopt workable community-based solutions to shift away from the single-use, throwaway culture that currently dominates our market,” the CCC said.

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