Plastic bottles become marine waste after short period of use: survey

02/27/2022 08:27 PM
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CNA file photo courtesy of the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation
CNA file photo courtesy of the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation

Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) Amid a worsening maritime debris problem along Taiwan's coastline, research has revealed that waste plastic bottles -- one of the main types of ocean garbage -- are washing up in coastal areas within just 23 days of leaving the bottling line.

Yen Ning (顏寧), chief executive officer of Taiwanese environmental consultancy IndigoWaters Institute, made the point in a recent interview with CNA, citing a government survey conducted by the cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration, which released the results of the "Project of Promoting and Maintaining Clean Coasts and Performance Management: Rapid Assessment and Source Analysis" in December 2021.

The data provided in the report was compiled by IndigoWaters, which offers services and advice to governments on the management of coastal and ocean pollution. It was based on plastic waste collected at 11 of the most popular coastline locations in Taiwan where large volumes of plastic waste wash up.

The coastal areas are located in eight cities and counties -- Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Pingtungcounties, Taoyuan City and the outlying islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

A comparison of bottling dates with the date on which the consultancy's 550 plastic bottle samples were collected indicates that certain bottles made in Taiwan had left the production line only 23 days before they became ocean waste, Yen said.

The revelation indicates that after taking into consideration the time used to fill up the bottles and sell them to consumers, plastic bottles could become litter within one to two weeks of leaving the production line.

The report also indicated that 14.9 percent of the 550 samples collected came from unknown countries of origin due to wear and tear, while 51.5 percent came from China. Taiwan contributed 30.7 percent of the pollution, while the remaining 2.9 percent came from Thailand, Korea and Indonesia.

Furthermore, plastic waste from China accounted for over 50 percent of the samples collected in Taoyuan City and Chiayi County and the offshore islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

As the Matsu Islands are much closer to the coast of China's Fujian province than Taiwan proper, the total volume of Chinese plastic waste collected there was 93 percent.

Meanwhile, bottles made in Taiwan accounted for more than 50 percent of the samples collected in Changhua and Yulin counties.

The report also indicated that about 1,426 tons of plastic waste was collected on Taiwan's coastline last year, with Taiwan proper accounting for 68 percent and the offshore islands 32 percent.

Moreover, more than 50 percent of plastic waste was found in locations that account for only 10 percent of Taiwan's coastline, the report said.

According to Yen, plastic waste spends a relatively short period in the ocean before being washed ashore, adding that in order to cut down on ocean and coastline pollution it is necessary to reduce the use of plastic bottles and littering.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and James Lo)

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