Big Western brands polluting oceans with cheap plastic in Philippines, Greenpeace says

Government clean-up workers a boat as Greenpeace activists (not pictured) inspect the polluted Pasig River in Metro Manila. (Reuters)
Updated 22 September 2017
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Big Western brands polluting oceans with cheap plastic in Philippines, Greenpeace says

MANILA: Western consumer giants are polluting oceans by selling products packaged in cheap, disposable plastic to Filipinos, Greenpeace has claimed — naming Nestle, Unilever and Procter & Gamble among the worst offenders.
The environmental group ranked the Philippines as the “third-worst polluter into the world’s oceans” after China and Indonesia in a report released Friday in Manila.
Single-use plastics from products sold by conglomerates, such as bags, bottle labels, and straws, stood out during a week-long Greenpeace clean-up campaign held on Manila Bay this month, it said.
More than 54,200 pieces of plastic waste were recovered from the bay in total, including some 9,000 from Nestle products — the most frequently-seen brand, according to a tally kept by the group.
“These corporations are the missing piece in the global fight against plastic pollution,” Greenpeace campaigner Abigail Aguilar said in a statement.
Greenpeace said plastic waste was a particularly serious problem in “sachet economies” like the Philippines and other developing countries, where people on limited incomes are pushed to buy cheap goods in small quantities.
In the Philippines, a country of 103 million people with high levels of poverty, products sold in single-use sachets include instant coffee, shampoo, cooking oil, food seasoning and toothpaste.
These low-value disposable sachets usually end up in landfill or as litter or marine debris, according to Greenpeace.
Nestle provided Aguilar details of its “environmental sustainability projects” on Friday, she said.
Unilever, number two on the Greenpeace list, and number five Procter & Gamble did not respond to the group’s correspondence, said regional Greenpeace spokeswoman Angelica Pago.
The solutions proposed by Nestle were “still promoting incineration and end-of-pipe solutions, while Greenpeace advocates for waste reduction and banning of single-use plastics altogether”, Pago added.
Nestle told AFP it was putting together material to explain its waste management efforts, but that the presentation would not be ready until next week. Procter & Gamble and Unilever did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.
Greenpeace said the Philippines contributed 1.88 million tons of “mismanaged plastic waste” each year, with Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia also on its list of the world’s biggest ocean plastic polluters.
The problem is expected to worsen as these countries’ growing economies lead to rising incomes and “exploding demand for consumer products”, the campaign group said.
Plastic waste from products made by Indonesian firm PT Torabika Mayora was third most-seen on Manila Bay, Greenpeace said, with local firm Universal Robina Corp. at number four.


Indonesian agency downplays volcanic eruption

Lava streams down from Anak Krakatoa volcano during an eruption as seen from Rakata island in South Lampung. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 45 sec ago
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Indonesian agency downplays volcanic eruption

  • No one lives on Krakatau, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, but the peak is a popular tourist spot
  • Indonesia is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a vast zone of geological instability

JAKARTA: The deadly 1883 eruption of Mount Krakatoa is unlikely to happen again despite the Anak Krakatoa volcanic island showing signs of increased activity, said Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
The agency has raised the alert status to the second of four levels since June 18 after the volcano rumbled back to life by spewing ash and lava, prompting officials to declare an exclusion zone within 1 km of the summit.
Anak Krakatoa caused hundreds of mild tremors on Thursday, according to seismographic data from the agency.
“It continues to rumble, and the eruptions are a normal phenomenon,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Arab News on Friday.
“Anak Krakatoa erupts as it continues to emerge higher, but the eruptions are never big since the energy of the magma it expels to the surface isn’t strong,” he said.
“Even though it erupts hundreds of times every day and the alert level has been increased, it’s not dangerous. It won’t cause a tsunami like in 1883.”
The eruption that year caused a 30-meter-high tsunami that killed more than 36 million people and lowered global temperatures by around 1.2 degrees Celcius for five years.
The eruption was so loud that it was audible as far away as Perth in western Australia, which is 3,100 km away, and in Mauritius, which is 4,800 km away.
The volcano erupted 479 times last weekend, gushing plumes of thick smoke up to 800 meters high, and lava was visible streaming down from its summit at night, Nugroho said. The eruptions have so far not affected flights or sea voyages, he added.
The Sunda Strait, where the island is located, is a busy shipping lane and accommodates the 30-km, frequently used ferry crossing between the islands of Java and Sumatra.
Anak Krakatoa is uninhabited, but its 300-meter-high summit is a popular tourist destination. It is one of the 127 active volcanoes — a third of the world’s total — that dot the Indonesian archipelago, and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet and subduct, frequently triggering earthquakes and volcanic activity.