Cost of plastic pollution in Phl
INVESTING ON THE GO - Iggy Go (The Freeman) - July 2, 2019 - 12:00am

I used to enjoy the rainy season as a child, but now, I hate it. The rainy season is here again and we got a rather interesting welcome with a mound of plastic trash that choked the drainage system along the Mahiga Creek in Mandaue City last week.

To put things into perspective, such things are nothing new, but it’s definitely getting worse. It seems that not only our politicians but also our fellow Filipinos seem to forget that we, the Philippines is the world’s third-largest ocean polluter despite a waste management act coming into effect 18 years ago.

Clogging of canals and waterways result in big floods in the downtown areas of Metro Cebu. The traffic and diseases due to land and water pollution that come with it is the norm. For some reason, we just get used to or numb to these situations.

I could have posted about this in June as that was the Environment Month with World Environment Day celebration included, but I don’t think a month of reminder is enough to solve our problems.

Just how much is the cost of all the plastic pollution in our oceans? A team of researchers from the UK and Norway came up with a mind boggling estimate. The cost of plastic pollution to society is around $500 billion to $2.5 Trillion per year.

The Philippines generates 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste annually and 20 per cent – or half a million tonnes – of that leaks into the oceans, the 2015 McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment report stated. For Cebu figures, nobody really knows at this point. We just suddenly see it during rainy season.

Some Hope

I do recall eating in Jollibee recently and I was patiently waiting in line, there was an argument between a customer in front of me and the cashier crew. The customer was insisting on wanting some plastic utensils while the cashier vigilantly and calmly informed the customer that it was their policy to discourage use of plastics and encouraged the customer to use the clean and heated metal utensils.

The customer flipped and reasoned that plastic utensils are cleaner. The cashier ensured that it was clean and that they highly discouraged customer to use plastics. The customer was obviously frustrated and cursed that such a ‘simple’ request is being made complicated and requested to talk to a manager. The manager stuck to the policy.

I found this interaction fascinating and shocking. I was also getting frustrated myself that the customer could not understand what they were trying to do and was also prepared to “Educate”. But luckily I was hungry and didn’t have the energy.

Plastic pollution should not be our government’s responsibility but we must also do our part as well. Additionally, we also need to make large companies take responsibility as they too contribute to pollution, knowing full well there is no infrastructure to dispose of them.

We use too much plastics! How many coffee cups and straws do we throw in each day? How many sachets and plastic packaging do we throw every week? How many bottled water containers have we wasted? These materials could turn into micro-plastics that can end up in our bodies.

Today is a good day to evaluate our personal use of plastic and how we can help beat plastic pollution!


Vernon Joseph Go, RFP®, REB, is a Public Speaker, Content Producer and  Author of the book “A Lazy Investor’s Way”.

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