THE WORLD BANK (WB) is urging Filipinos to avoid the usage of single-use plastics to help protect marine life, noting that eight million tons of plastic go into the ocean each year.

“Every time we use a plastic bag, or a cup or a straw, let us think whether we can avoid it. Every time we go to the beach or diving or island hopping, we should leave the place as beautiful and pristine as we found it. Every time we see somebody throwing trash, we should respectfully educate,” Agata E. Pawlowska, World Bank Acting Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines said in her speech during the Marine Plastics Conference in Taguig on Thursday

“If current trends continue, by 2025, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight. The problems of plastics has been created in our lifetime. Half the volume of the plastic ever manufactured was made only in the last 15 years. The costs of inaction are rising and jointly, we can roll out urgent and concrete actions,” Ms. Pawlowska said.

Ms. Pawlowska noted that the Philippines has the third highest rate of mismanaged plastic globally, as the Pasig River and Manila Bay were identified to be among the bodies of water that need urgent rehabilitation.

“There is a lack of statistics on the amount of plastic in the Philippine waters. What is known is that the amount of mismanaged plastic waste is continuously increasing, and that the plastic crisis requires urgent action,” Ms. Pawlowska said.

“Interestingly, less than 20% of leakage originates from ocean-based sources like fisheries and fishing vessels. This means over 80% of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources. Once plastic is discarded, it is not well managed, and thus leaks into the ocean. The impacts of marine plastic pollution are manifold, and include food security, economic, water safety and ecosystem impacts,” according to Ms. Pawlowska.

Meanwhile, Jose Angelito M. Palma, President and Chief Executive Officer of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) — Philippines, said minimizing the use of single-use plastics must first come at local government level.

“I think the policies should be done locally first, LGU level, rather than from the national government,” Mr. Palma said.

“It is all about the capacity, it is all about the consumer, the demand and the user,” Mr. Palma added.

Mr. Palma also called for the upcycling of plastics, to be made into bricks and chairs, rather than recycling which would consume more energy. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio