MANILA – Volunteers and residents in the Philippine capital Manila participated in the beach cleanup activity as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday.
Hundreds of volunteers comprising of students, members of the public and authorities gathered on the beach of Manila Bay early Saturday to collect garbage at one of the country’s longest natural coastlines.
The event was part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day, the world’s largest annual preservation and protection event and volunteer effort for beaches and waterways celebrated annually on the third Saturday in September since its inception in 1986.
The density of the trash ashore as well as over the shoreline means the atmosphere can be nauseating and volunteers had to wear rubber gloves and face masks as they collected and sorted piles of everyday items that are washed from the capital, ranging from water lilies, plastic bottles, plastic boxes and flip flops, according to an epa photographer.
The volunteers were in an uplifting mood during the activity, although a Manila resident noted to epa, “Manila Bay will never be the same again even if there is a cleanup every day.”
Several beach cleanup drives have been organized in Manila for the past two weeks.
On Thursday, Greenpeace led the cleanup activity on the beach of Freedom Island, an artificial island in Manila Bay just off the coast of Parañaque in Metro Manila.
The island contains a mangrove forest and swamps providing a habitat for many migratory bird species, according to Greenpeace website.
German environment campaigner Michael Meyer-Krotz, who was leading the volunteering effort, told epa that plastic items collected on the beach in the past weeks would be sorted by brand before making an announcement, on Sept. 22, on the name of the corporation responsible for producing the highest number of plastic waste.
“These are no beaches, these are open landfills,” said Meyer-Krotz.
“Besides this cleanup, we will have brands ordered so we will sort the waste according to the companies who are producing them.”
“We need to name the responsible companies because this has to stop,” added the environmental campaigner.
Nonprofit Ocean Conservancy said almost two million pieces of cigarette butts were collected from the beach around the world in 2016, the highest number of garbage item collected.
There were 1.5 million plastic beverage bottles and around 800,000 plastic bottle caps collected, making them the second and third-highest trash collected respectively.
According to a 2015 study, the Philippines is the third highest producer of plastic waste, behind China and Indonesia and ahead of Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.
The United Nations Environment Programme warned this year that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans unless single-use plastics including bags and bottles are banned.