SCIENTISTS WORK TO CURB PH’S PLASTIC WASTE PROBLEM
MADE OF PLASTIC. The 50-foot long whale replica, which was created from plastic waste, was positioned on the beach near the shoreline in Manila Bay. (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace Philippines)
TACLOBAN CITY — The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) has been gathering ideas from scientists and researchers nationwide to put an end to plastic pollution in the country.
At the end of the two-day Visayas Regional Scientific Meeting held at the Summit Hotel here Friday, NAST President Rhodora Azanza said plastic pollution has become a major concern being a central feature in modern living.
Azanza said they have been holding meetings in the country’s three island groups to learn from one another, share opinions, and produce significant recommendations to curb plastic pollution.
“If we decide as a group, we will recommend to appropriate bodies. We need everybody’s help to campaign against plastic use,” he told reporters.
The city is the host of the Visayas regional scientific meeting on March 20-21. The gathering is anchored on the theme, “Caring for our country’s carrying capacity”.
This is the first scientific meeting this year. Other gatherings will be held in Alaminos, Pangasinan in April for Luzon and in General Santos City, South Cotabato in May for Mindanao.
NAST is eyeing to synthesize all recommendations in an annual meeting July. The output will be presented to the House of Representatives, Senate, and Cabinet officials.
Fabian Dayrit, NAST academician and professor of Ateneo de Manila University, said about 15 percent of solid waste in the country is made up of plastic materials and the volume is consistently rising due to increasing demand.
“The management of plastic waste must be based on an understanding of the physic-chemical nature of the various plastics, in particular, their polymer composition and properties. Strategies to minimize plastic pollution should consider the different types of plastic pollution: macro pollutants, microplastics, microfibers, and chemical additives,” Dayrit said.
The waste management strategy of 3Rs — reduce, re-use, and recycle — must be augmented with a fourth strategy: redesign, according to Dayrit.
“New management strategies for plastics now advocate for a circular economy, which includes the conversion of waste plastic into raw materials and the development of new polymers and plastic materials,” he added.
The scientific meetings decided to make plastic pollution as the main topic after plastics were found in the digestive systems of dead dolphins and whales.
NAST said the Philippines had been identified by Ocean Conservatory in its 2015 report as a significant contributor to the plastic found in the world’s oceans.
Citing studies, NAST revealed that the country generates some 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste with more than 50 percent find its way to bodies of water.
NAST is an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology mandated by law to advise the President and Cabinet on matters related to science and technology.