December 5, 2020

Japan, UNDP Help Cambodia Reduce Marine Plastic Litter

News Source: Asia Times

Author(s): Say Samal, Mikami Masahiro And Nick Beresford

Across the world, it is estimated that 13 million tons of plastic reach the oceans each year. More than a million mammals, fish and birds suffer or die annually either from ingesting this plastic or becoming entangled in it.

It is reported that around 90% of all fish now carry plastic particles in their stomachs. These toxic chemicals accumulate throughout the food chain and eventually also pass into human bodies.

About 90% of plastic waste transported into the ocean comes from just 10 major rivers. These are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. They run through populous areas of some of the least developed countries where there is not only a lack of waste collection and recycling infrastructure, but also limited environmental awareness.

The problem of marine plastic pollution is closely linked to the surge in plastic production and use. The worldwide total volume of plastic production has reached 8.3 billion metric tons. As a convenient, cheap, and durable material, plastic has completely transformed how we live and how businesses operate.

This change is visible in Cambodia, too. Thirty years ago, plastic was not as ubiquitous. People brought bamboo baskets to local markets to buy fruits and vegetables, which vendors wrapped in lotus or banana leaves. These biodegradable materials have now been almost entirely replaced by plastic bags, straws, food packaging and bottles.