Philippines Oceanic Waste Crisis

Despite government efforts in trying to reduce plastic in the ocean, Philippines is currently ranked as the third most contaminated ocean according to Ocean Conservancy. Many blame this contamination on a corrupt government and a rapidly growing economy.

The Philippines has a long history with corruption, which has resulted in environmental issues not having much priority. Yet, in attempts to solve this problem, in 2000 the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act was presented. This document presented sustainable and well-organized ways for plastic disposal. Unfortunately, however, due to the corrupt government and directives this was not developed as desired and laws were not implemented.

“Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, and turtles are killed by ocean plastic pollution every year, including single-use plastics and abandoned plastic gear from the fishing industry,” said Peter Kemple, Hardy campaigner at World Animal Protection.

The current news consists of a young Cuvier’s beaked whale who had ingested 40 kg of plastic in his stomach. The whale died of dehydration as sea animals usually ingest their water by the food they eat. This struck shock and horror internationally and inspired protests demanding the government to have some kind of repercussions for those who treat the ocean as a dump.

Inside the stomach of the young whale was 16 rice sacks, as well as multiple shopping bags, which was way more than the environmentalist activist and owner of the natural museum D’Bone Darrell Blatchley imagined. The plastic inside the whale’s stomach calcified, therefore, making it more painful causing the male “to vomit blood before dying.”

This news has enraged many environmental groups, urging the government to take action against those who are willing to treat the ocean as a dumpster. Although some citizens decided to take matters into their own hands as the government has not done much to help. A small city in the northern Philippines is taking it upon themselves to implement a zero-waste policy. This policy says no to plastic and finds fun and practical ways to dispose of it without jeopardizing marine life.

Some solutions that have been offered include the necessity of educating the citizens. Therefore many organizations are going to schools in order to highlight the importance of recycling. One organization, Mother Earth Foundation, worked and helped to recycle 70 percent of the city’s waste, according to South China Morning Post.

What tends to be the problem is that many of these cities or towns don’t have recycling readily available therefore causing many to just dump trash in the ocean. One initiative that should be adopted is cultural programs that help children to create a conscious and green environment.

Another option is one that was implemented in San Fernando located in the northern Philippines, which focused on teaching the youth about the importance of recycling plastic and creating innovative ways for the recycled plastic to be used to keep it from ending up in the ocean. Therefore, Philippines innovative programs within the community could be the possible solution to the plastic problem if the government continues to turn a blind eye.