Pasig river, other Philippine rivers among top plastic waste carriers in the world, says study

June 9, 2021 - 7:25 PM
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A woman picks up plastic cups along the riverbank of Pasig river, in Manila, Philippines, June 10, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Pasig, Agno, Davao and Iloilo rivers are among the top 50 rivers in the world that carry the most pollution into the ocean, according to a recent study.

Government agency Climate Change Commission also reported the same study on Facebook on Wednesday.

The study titled “More than 1000 rivers account for 80% of global riverine plastic emissions into the ocean” was released by a non-profit organization called the Ocean Cleanup in the journal Science Advances on April 30.

The Ocean Cleanup is an international organization that seeks to rid the oceans of plastic through advanced technologies.

In the study, the researchers estimated that at least 1,000 rivers are responsible for nearly 80% of plastic waste in the world’s overall plastic emissions.

“We estimate that more than 1000 rivers account for 80% of global annual emissions, which range between 0.8 million and 2.7 million metric tons per year, with small urban rivers among the most polluting,” the researchers said.

The remaining 20%, meanwhile, are found and scattered over 30,000 rivers.

An interactive world map featuring these rivers could also be accessed through the Ocean Cleanup’s website.

Screenshots from the Ocean Cleanup website on June 9, 2021

The rivers are represented by the red dots while small urban rivers are represented by smaller blue dots.

In the Philippines, the rivers included in the list of top 50 plastic waste carriers are:

  • Pasig River
  • Tullahan River
  • Meycauayan River
  • Pampanga River
  • Libmanan River
  • Rio Grande de Mindanao River
  • Agno River
  • Agusan River
  • Parañaque River
  • Iloilo River
  • Imus River
  • Zapote River
  • Cagayan de Oro River
  • Davao River
  • Malaking Tubig River
  • Tambo, Pasay (Storm drain)
  • Jalaur River
  • Cagayan River
  • Hamulauon River

Based on the study’s model, the Philippines is also the largest contributing country with 4,820 rivers emitting 356,371 MT (metric tons) per year.

The rest are India with 126,513 MT year, Malaysia with 73,098 MT per year, and China with 70,707 MT year.

Pasig River is also the most polluting river in the world, according to the researchers.

In line with these findings, the Climate Change Commission called for urgent efforts to implement measures to regulate single-use plastics in the country.

“The study findings raise extreme concern on the issue of mismanaged plastic wastes in the country, and supports the call of the Commission 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,” it said.

The commission cited House Bill No. 9147 or the “Single-Use Plastics Products Regulation Act,” which had been approved on second reading in the House of Representatives, as a potential measure to address this concern.

“The agency strongly urges the public to use alternatives and adopt workable community-based solutions to shift away from the single-use, throwaway culture that currently dominates our market,” the commission said.