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28 T&T beaches to be cleaned up next month
This year’s International coastal clean-up will take place on September 21, with 3,500 volunteers expected to take part clearing litter and debris from 22 beaches in Trinidad and six in Tobago.
Each year the T&T leg of the ICC’s international beach clean-up campaign gathers more support—the number of volunteers helping out on clean-up day has doubled in three years—while more corporate sponsors have teamed up with organisers, including Coca-Cola, Angostura and Blue Waters.
In 2009, 1,500 people took part in the event. By 2012, the figure had risen to 3,150. Marissa Mohamed, deputy director at the Caribbean Network for Integrated Rural Development, presenting data at a launch event at the Marriott hotel, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, said the increase in numbers meant a staggering 28,000 pounds of rubbish and detritus was shifted from our beaches last year.
Plastic bottles are the biggest litter problem for beaches. 60,000 plastic items were recorded last year. 15,000 glass bottles were collected, as well as thousands of styrofoam objects and cigarette butts. Every item picked up is recorded and weighed at the beach. The data, compiled by teamleaders, is sent to Mohamed who reports the full findings to ICC organisers, the Ocean Conservancy NGO, based in Washington DC. Data collection builds a global picture of the littering problem and the success of international volunteer efforts to deal with it. Last year, half a million volunteers picked up ten million pounds of rubbish from beaches around the globe.
Speaking at the launch event, hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Gina Carvalho, chair of the National Planning Committee for the ICC, said that getting detailed and accurate information from the annual clean-up is a vital weapon when lobbying the government to introduce preventative bills, such as the Beverage Container Bill. Currently before the Senate, the bill aims to reduce waste caused by the 70 million plastic drinking bottles produced in T&T every month.
Carvalho said if T&T addressed the serious issue of plastic manufacturing, consumption and waste and delivers a, “national economic response, T&T could become a leading light in developing and re-assessing the plastics and recycling industries.”
Also addressing the environmental impact of PET plastic bottles at the event was Martin Newallo, marketing manager of the Coca-Cola T&T, a worldwide sponsoring partner of the ICC. He said Coca-Cola had recently created and launched a bottle that uses 40 per cent less plastic and that its research and development team was working on producing bottles made of 100 per cent plant-based materials.
He added: “Small things create big change. Every individual playing their part goes a long way for the environment.”
Last but not least, four young interns spending their school break working at the Caribbean Youth Environment Network on public health and climate change, presented the results of a research project they carried out on beaches in the counties of St Patrick and Victoria.
In collaboration with the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, a Brooklyn-based NGO, Samantha Raman of Holy Faith Convent, Couva; Jheuel Carter-Guy and Dianna Persad of Naparima College and Rinelle Cozier of San Fernando Modsec talked to local residents and found that while a majority of them felt the local community should take responsibility for keeping local beaches clean, 60 per cent of them had never actually taken part in a beach clean-up.
The interns will present their full findings, as well as a marine litter themed poster they have designed, at the Noor Hassanali auditorium, UWI, on Friday at 9 am.
Beaches and waterways with the most rubbish collected at last year’s coastal cleanup:
1. Quinam beach, Siparia—4,132 pounds of rubbish.
2. Chagville beach, Chaguaramas—2,780 pounds.
3. Manzanilla beach, east coast of Trinidad—2,563 pounds.
4. Vessigny beach, La Brea—2,345 pounds.
5. Caura River—2,014 pounds.
6. Great Courland Bay, Tobago—1,854 pounds.
What kind of rubbish is this? The main offenders are:
• 60,000 plastic items (bottles, bags etc).
• 15,000 glass items (bottles, jars etc).
• 3,000 styrofoam items.
• 2,000 cigarette butts.
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