EFFORTS to protect rivers and tributaries from garbage and debris can now be accomplished with the use of the same materials that often end up being disposed in bodies of water.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently launched its "floating trash traps" using plastic bottles and other recyclable materials as alternative to commercial waters buoys, making the effort in protecting rivers from unwanted trash easier and economical.
The projects have been motivated by the ongoing efforts to protect Manila Bay from solid wastes that end up in its tributaries. The trash traps prevent garbage from being transported down rivers and tributaries.
DENR record shows that these traps have prevented at least 30 tons of solid waste from reaching the waters of the Manila Bay through its various tributaries since they were installed in the early months of this year.
The traps were strategically placed in rivers and streams where they can stop solid waste from floating further downstream, without hampering the movements of aquatic life such as fish.
Floating trash traps
The contraptions are 30 to 100-meter-long float protection. They are made usually of recycled materials like plastic bottles and other composite materials that are easily sourced.
Aside from the work-hours needed in assembling the traps, the costs in making one is basically negligible. The floaters are held together by screens. These effectively hold up any floating debris for easy collection, effectively stopping materials from reaching the bay.
When the garbage trapped, the "estero rangers" and local partners of the DENR come in to collect the trash for proper segregation and disposal. The DENR said that the traps are so cost efficient that organizations and barangays can easily make one for their rivers and streams.
DENR Central Luzon executive director Paquito Moreno Jr. said some 50 trash traps measuring 30 to 100 meters were installed in Lamao, Orani, Orion, Pinulot, Pangulisanin, Amo, Aguawan, Almacen, Bilolo, Talisay, Mabuco and Samal rivers, all in Bataan, and Guagua -Pasak river in Pampanga.
The initial implementation of the traps have been so effective that some 30 tons of garbage have already been collected through the said contraptions.
By the next quarter, rivers in Bulacan like the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system will be the next target for the implementation of the program. There are some 17 river systems leading to Manila Bay. These include the Angat, Bocaue, Sta. Maria, Marilao, Meycauayan, Obando, Talisay, Guagua and Pampanga Rivers (Region 3).
In the National Capital Region, there are the river systems of Meycauayan-Valenzuela, Pasig, Parañaque and Malabon-Navotas-Tullahan-Tinajeros Rivers (NCR). Southern Tagalog River Systems like the Imus, Ylang-ylang, Rio Grande and Cañas Rivers also end up at the Manila Bay.
"Aside from the regular cleanup, which we are doing every week, these trash traps are another strategy to prevent the accumulation of garbage in the shoreline of our historic Manila Bay. Solid wastes are now being removed from the source before it reaches the Bay," Moreno said.
Waste from tributaries
The DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-Central Luzon statistics show that the average solid waste generation of Central Luzon is estimated at 5,598 tons per year.
In Metro Manila alone, some 9,212 tons of waste ends up in rivers, estuaries, and other bodies of water and eventually to Manila Bay.
Moreno said that waste characterization is important to determine the focus of our Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities especially on the behavioral change campaigns, he added, saying that the data can also be used in the formulation of environmental laws and policies.
"We have partnered with local government units (LGUs) in the region to manufacture and install these floating trash traps in the rivers within their locality while new traps are continually being installed with their help. Also, our estero rangers regularly collect and characterize the wastes from traps before it can be disposed of in sanitary landfills," Moreno said.
The Manila Bay Area covers eight provinces like the coastal provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite and Pampanga and 178 local government units. Non-coastal provinces with tributaries leading to the Bay include Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Rizal and Tarlac.
Moreno also appealed to the public to support the DENR in its campaign to save Manila Bay and to religiously practice the 3R's (Reduce, Reduce and Recycle), of solid waste management coupled with discipline to reduce the waste generation in the region.