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BBC: Divers discover face masks littering Anilao coral reef
“Take a look at the rubbish that was brought back by the divers. You can see here, blue face masks, lots of them. There’s a face shield here, plastic bottles, tarpaulin. And the question is now, what happens to this rubbish?” BBC Philippine correspondent Howard Johnson said in the report.
Miguel de Guzman, file

BBC: Divers discover face masks littering Anilao coral reef

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - March 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Divers have discovered face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) entangling the reefs at the popular dive spot of Anilao in Batangas, a new report by the British Broadcasting Network (BBC) revealed.

“Take a look at the rubbish that was brought back by the divers. You can see here, blue face masks, lots of them. There’s a face shield here, plastic bottles, tarpaulin. And the question is now, what happens to this rubbish?” BBC Philippine correspondent Howard Johnson said in the report.

Johnson, along with professional divers from the Anilao Scuba Dive Center, found disposable surgical masks and plastic waste littering the dive spot.

“Back then, it was not this bad. We see small pieces of plastic. But right now, wherever you look, it is there,” driver Shala Caliao said in English and Filipino.

A paper published in the journal Case Studies in Chemical and Environmental Engineering last September estimated the country uses 49 million face masks and generates 353.03 tons of medical waste daily.

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) report said Manila alone produces an additional 280 tons of medical waste per day, while the UN website said around 75 percent of used masks and pandemic-related waste will end up in landfills or in seas.

UN Environment Program (UNEP) executive director Inger Andersen warned of uncontrolled pollution if the large increase in medical waste is not managed soundly.

“Masks, PPE, gloves and other disposal items are an essential part of the COVID-19 response. But this plastic waste threatens to negate strides made in the fight against disposable plastics, marine litter and microplastics – especially in countries with weak waste management infrastructure,” Andersen said.

For the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), culprits must be identified so appropriate action can be taken.

“They could be charged with the violation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or the Anti-Littering Law,” Undersecretary Jonas Leones said.

“We are coordinating with local governments especially concerning strengthening the information and education campaign on proper disposal of face masks,” Undersecretary Benny Antiporda added. – Rhodina Villanueva

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