LIMA – The Pacific Ocean washes plastic waste, wood, pipes and other construction materials every day onto Peru’s Carpayo beach, considered Latin America’s dirtiest stretch of coast with tons of refuse and waste from the capital, Lima.
No other beach in Latin America gets the 2.8 kilos (6.2 pounds) of trash per square meter (10.8 sq. feet) collected from Carpayo during the most recent clean-up campaign organized by the environmental organization Vida, the group’s president, Arturo Alfaro, told EFE.
Some 1,000 volunteers collected 60 tons of trash in just three hours.
“We left the beach clean, but the next day there was trash again. We compared the results with other places where similar campaigns are conducted, such as the Philippines and Hawaii, and none of them have Carpayo’s waste density. It is unique,” Alfaro said.
Among the jumble of refuse found on Carpayo by volunteers were furniture, auto parts, windows and even a human skull, apparently tossed into the sea by a medical student.
Vida has been removing waste from Peruvian beaches for 17 years, with the volume of refuse the sea washes onto the coastline increasing over the years, particularly in Carpayo, due to the recent construction boom in Lima, Alfaro said.
Carpayo is on the western tip of the bay where the Peruvian capital is located and has been receiving building materials dumped in the Lima suburbs of Magdalena del Mar and San Miguel for three decades, Vida said.
Construction companies are to blame for beach pollution and the Health Ministry and Housing Ministry have not made efficient management of solid waste a priority in Peru, Alfaro said.
“Between 40 percent and 50 percent of the trash landing on Carpayo are materials that could be recycled. The most dangerous are small objects, like polystyrene items that fish and birds mistake for food,” Alfaro said.