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Pasig River carries the most plastic trash into the world’s oceans—study

By Romina Celina Faylon Published Jun 10, 2021 8:43 pm

Pasig River was recently named the top plastic-polluting river in the world. This is according to a study by Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit environmental organization in the Netherlands.

Titled “More than 1000 rivers account for 80% of global riverine plastic emission into the ocean,” it was published by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Science Advances.

According to Ocean Cleanup, the Philippines has 466 rivers out of the 1,656 rivers that accounted for nearly 80% of plastic inputs into the ocean.  

The organization tracked and developed these findings using a tool that could track plastics found or floating in the ocean.

Over 1,656 rivers were looked into worldwide, and 466 or 28% of rivers were in the Philippines. The organization found that the country's rivers dump over 356,371 MT (metric tons) of plastic waste every year, contributing to pollution in oceans.

"We estimate that more than 1,000 rivers account for 80% of global annual emissions, which range between 0.8 million and 2.7 million metric tons per year, with small urban rivers among the most polluting," Ocean Cleanup said.

The remaining 20% of plastic emissions are distributed to the other 30,000 rivers, according to the researchers.

The Philippines has 466 rivers out of the 1,656 rivers that accounted for nearly 80% of plastic inputs into the ocean.

In response to the findings, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said in a statement the 27-kilometer Pasig River is the most plastic polluting river globally. It produces 63,000 tons of plastic from the said water source enters the vast ocean annually.

Alongside the Pasig River, the top 50 plastic waste producers of the Philippines are Tullahan River, Meycauayan River, Pampanga River, Libmanan River, Rio Grande de Mindanao River, Agno River, Agusan River, Parañaque River, Iloilo River, Imus River, Zapote River, Cagayan de Oro River, Davao River, Malaking Tubig River, Tambo, Pasay (Storm drain), Jalaur River, Cagayan River, and the Hamulauon River.

For the past years, numerous rehabilitation drives and clean-up projects have been implemented, spearheaded by private and public organizations in the Philippines, to bring back Pasig River's old glory, but these have not been enough.

According to a Filipino environmental scientist who declined to be named, plans and projects for Pasig River are done in goodwill but hardly make an impact and implementation is inconsistent.

The environmental scientist also added that the river is not given much value and priority due to recent events. Efforts are made to rehabilitate, but there are still many people who see the river as a big drainage and waste disposal area.

“The government should take an integrated approach to rehabilitating Pasig River. Solutions should be encompassing and covering social, environmental and economical aspects, to make Pasig River sustainable again,” the environmental scientist said.

An urgency to shift away from single-use plastics and products is the call made by CCC. House Bill No. 9147 or the "Single-Use Plastics Products Regulation Act" is currently on its second reading in Congress.