Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy recyclables have been closed since March. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 August 2020

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”


Paris: 4 wounded in knife attack near ex-Charlie Hebdo site

Updated 10 min 51 sec ago

Paris: 4 wounded in knife attack near ex-Charlie Hebdo site

PARIS: Four people were wounded in a knife attack Friday near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and two assailants are on the run, police said.
Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police flooding into the neighborhood in eastern Paris, near the Richard Lenoir subway station.
Police are “actively hunting” for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby, according to a police offical.
The motive for the attack is unclear, and it is not clear whether it is linked to Charlie Hebdo, which moved its activities out of the area after Islamic extremists attacked its editorial offices in 2015, killing 12 people.
Police did not release the identities of the attackers or the wounded, who include two people in “absolutely urgent” condition, the official said. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.
Prime Minister Jean Castex cut short a visit to a suburb north of Paris to head to the Interior Ministry to follow developments.
The trial in the Charlie Hebdo attacks is currently underway across town. Murmurs broke at the terrorism trial of 14 people, including 3 fugitives, accused of helping the attackers in the January 2015 killings, as the news filtered through. The widows of the Charlie Hebdo attackers are scheduled to testify Friday afternoon.