Press Release
July 6, 2014

Villar Concerned About Marine Litter That Contaminates Food Chain
Plastics Comprise 80% of Marine Litter

Senator Cynthia Villar, a staunch environmental advocate, expressed concern over the alarming amount of plastic trash that, according to experts, reaches the deepest parts of the oceans and does not only damage the marine ecosystem but also contaminates the food chain.

"It estimated that around 14 billion pounds of garbage makes its way into the world's oceans every year. A significant amount of which comes from our improperly disposed trash that get washed off streets, through our waterways, and into the sea," said Villar, who joined various environmentalist groups in marking the International Plastic Bag-Free Day in Manila Bay area on Thursday (July 3).

A waste audit conducted on Manila Bay in 2010 by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Ecowaste Coalition, Greenpeace, and others, revealed that plastics comprise 75.5% of the garbage that people dispose into the water. Globally, 80% of marine litter is also comprised of plastics.Around 100 million tons of plastic are produced each year, of which about 10 million tons ends in the sea.

The said groups are pushing for a national law phasing out or banning plastic bags, which will reduce solid waste generation and support the Supreme Court's writ of continuing mandamus for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

"Plastic wastes go deep down to the ocean floor. We wrongly think that plastics just float, but 70% of plastic wastes eventually sink. Scientists have found out that since plastics break into tiny pieces, fish may be eating them too. Thus penetrating the so-called 'global ocean food web', which find its way to our food chain or the food we eat," cited Villar.

Plastic bags, in particular, pose danger to marine creatures such as sea turtle which mistake them for jellyfish and swallow them--causing their death. Even birds are known to have been poisoned by human trash, mainly plastics.

Villar also emphasized that it takes between 100 to 500 years for a plastic bag to disintegrate. "We can just imagine how much damage plastics do to marine habitats, ecosystem and our very own health and wellbeing since pulverized plastic waste in the sea gets into the food chain and contaminates the food that we eat".

According to Villar, the existing plastic ban in cities nationwide is making a difference and the campaign should be widened to other areas. Proper waste disposal and recycling or up-cycling efforts should also be promoted and supported.

Villar is the proponent of various livelihood projects that use wastes including plastics as raw materials. The wastes plastics recycling factory of Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (SIPAG), make school chairs from recycled plastic wastes, which are distributed to public schools. It can produce 250 chairs a month, which is equivalent to nearly 4,000 kilos of plastic wastes processed.

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