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Planet vs. Plastics: CORA collects over 103 kg. waste during Earth Day cleanup

Nonprofit organization Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA) mobilized over 150 volunteers last April 27, 2024to combat plastic pollution in Manila Bay as part of its Earth Day celebration, and has managed to collect a total of 103.6 kg of marine litter.

CORA Founder and Executive Director Antoinette Taus expressed her enthusiasm for the presence of volunteers from various parts of the country who picked up marine litter and collected data in one of the country's most iconic coastal areas.

"More than a clean-up activity, this is a testament to the power of unity and purpose. It's about rallying communities, governments and the private sector to stand together in addressing the plastic pollution crisis which affects vulnerable communities most of all,” Taus said. The cleanup was joined by long-standing partners Paranaque City Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) Officer-In-Charge Mark Allen Besa and DENR-NCR Las Pinas Paranaque Wetland Park Environmental Officer Junrey Tabarna.

The volunteers also participated in eco-talks from advocates and leaders, highlighting the importance of systemic change and “business unusual” in addressing the marine litter issue in Manila Bay, along with a zero-waste upcycling demo conducted by the women of the Paranaque City CENRO Livelihood community.

The "Planet vs. Plastics" Earth Day Cleanup at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park is organized by CORA in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Our Sea of East Asia Network (OSEAN), Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park (DENR-LPPWP).

Alarming statistics on plastic pollution

Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to marine life, ecosystems, and human health. A study by the World Bank revealed that the Philippines discards a staggering 163 million sachets every single day, along with 48 million plastic bags, and 3 million diapers – prompting the urgent call to reduce the production and consumption of single-use plastics, while strengthening solid waste management systems that empower women and vulnerable communities.

The latest findings from the 2023 Rapid Assessment Standing Stock Survey carried out by CORA at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park revealed that food wrappers and sachets constitute the predominant type of marine litter, comprising 33% of the total waste collected. This alarming statistic is closely followed by plastic bottles, accounting for 15% of the accumulated waste.

"Plastic pollution causes great harm to the environment, economy, and human health. By strengthening solid waste management systems on a municipal level, we can recover recyclable resources before they end up in our seas and landfills while empowering women and communities through the circular economy," Taus added.

Championing Sustainable Solutions

To address the country's marine pollution crisis, CORA, together with KOICA, USAID and OSEAN is currently implementing the “Eco-Ikot Sustainable Cities” program. Activities include promoting awareness, driving behavioral change, and implementing sustainable solutions for waste management through initiatives such as the “Eco-Ikot Center,” an inclusive and women-led exchange facility that provides incentives, such as e-cash and goods to citizens, in exchange for their clean, dry, and segregated recyclables.

In addition, through the “My OSEAN Mission” program, CORA, KOICA, KOEM, and OSEAN conduct citizen science activities through regular marine litter monitoring, monthly coastal cleanups, and social behavior change campaigns as part of the five-year project "Enhancement of Marine Litter Management in Manila Bay" (EMLM). In the last three months, citizen scientists and volunteers have collected over 819 kilograms of marine litter, most of which are single-use, plastic-based materials.

"By training our volunteers as citizen scientists, CORA's coastal cleanups become a powerful tool in collecting valuable data shared with scientists, lawmakers, and innovators to create policies, technologies, and systems that can help us beat plastic pollution at the source," Taus added.

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