By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The United States government on Thursday awarded ₱20-million worth of grants for the implementation of projects that will protect and preserve the Philippine marine environment.
The grants aim to specifically promote and expand community-based recycling programs, improve solid waste management, and support research on plastic waste around Manila Bay.
Local organizations Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation will implement the grants for two projects supporting the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Presenting the grants were United States Embassy in the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission John Law and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda. DENR Undersecretary Miguel Cuna also joined the event in Quezon City.
“These partnerships are critical to protecting urban coastal areas that rely on tourism and fisheries sectors,” Law said.
“We are proud to work together with the Philippines in finding innovative solutions to keeping plastic waste out of our oceans,” he added.
The grants are part of the United States Agency for International Development’s Municipal Waste Recycling Program, which supports solid waste management and water recycling efforts by local and national governments, civil society organizations, and academic institutions in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
According to Ocean Conservancy, eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year on top of the 150 million tons of plastic that already circulate in the ocean.
This waste threatens marine ecosystems and human health as it makes its way into the global human food supply, mostly through fish products.
Also, based on the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup report, cigarette butts, plastic bottles and caps, straws and stirrers, among other kinds of plastic bags, were some of the top items found.
The report also indicated that such wastes could harm one million seabirds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles and countless fish annually due to ingestion and entanglement.
Likewise, a United Nations report found that the Philippines is one of top five contributors of plastic waste in the world’s oceans, accounting for about half of the total plastic leakage.