Pasig is world’s most polluting river — study


PASIG RIVER is considered the world’s most polluting river when it comes to plastic waste, according to research published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

At the same time, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Group (ICTSI) Foundation on Wednesday launched initiatives to help rehabilitate the polluted river.

An April study published by the AAAS’ Science Advances journal showed the 28% of the rivers responsible for global plastic pollution are in the Philippines.

The Philippines had 466 rivers out of the 1,656 rivers that accounted for 80% of ocean plastic waste, followed by India with 211 and Malaysia with 105.

“The world’s most polluting river when it comes to plastic is the 27-kilometer Pasig River which runs through Metro Manila, accounting for 63,000 tons of plastic entering oceans from rivers per year,” a statement from the Climate Change Commission (CCC) read.

Aside from Pasig, the list of top 50 rivers that carry the most trash into the ocean included 18 more from the Philippines.

These rivers are Tullahan, Meycauayan, Pampanga, Libmanan, Rio Grande de Mindanao, Agno, Agusan, Paranaque, Iloilo, Imus, Zapote, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Malaking Tubig, Tambo in Pasay, Jalaur, Cagayan and Hamulauon.

The Philippines is also said to be the country with the highest averaged probability for a plastic particle to reach the ocean in a year, at 7.2%.

“The study findings raise extreme concern on the issue of mismanaged plastic wastes in the country, and supports the call…for urgent efforts to solve the plastic crisis by implementing measures to regulate and in turn, halt the production of unnecessary plastics-made straws and stirrers, spoon and fork, and plastic labo, among others,” CCC said.

Meanwhile, SMC on Wednesday said it is allocating P2 billion for its five-year plan to clean up the Pasig River.

Described as the “largest-ever river rehabilitation project in the country,” it will involve extracting 50,000 metric tons of silt and solid waste per month from the river, or 600,000 metric tons a year using advanced and specialized equipment.

The project is supported by the departments of Environment, Public Works, Interior and Local Government, Philippine Coast Guard, and local government units, including Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Pasig.

“There have been many cleanup efforts in the past, and government has successfully implemented a number of programs these past few years. But decades of pollution and compounding problems that have rendered the river biologically dead since the 1990s are too significant and complex to overcome — even for the best-intentioned advocates and organizations,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said in a statement.

“We hope that with the resources and technical know-how that we are bringing into the effort today — along with the continued support of our National Government agencies and local government units — we can all make a bigger difference,” Mr. Ang added.

Also, the ICTSI Foundation said it has partnered up with Finnish nongovernmental organization RiverRecycle to introduce a sustainable river waste collection system along Pasig River.

ICTSI Foundation said it will allot $1 million for the implementation of Rivercycle, adding that this will complement existing efforts in restoring the 27-kilometer river.

The project will involve collecting plastic waste using a device to capture between 70 to 200 tons of waste per day, as well as raising awareness of waste management practices in the communities.

“The collected plastic waste will be converted into oil before being converted back into plastic,” ICTSI Foundation said. — A.Y. Yang

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