It is a diver’s paradise, famed for the highest concentration of marine species in the world.
But more than 1,700 species of fish, 338 types of coral, and the whale sharks and sea turtles of the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines are having to share space with vast amounts of plastic litter.
The tourist destination is the latest underwater idyll found choking in plastic, with a Greenpeace investigation finding toothpaste, coffee and food wrappers under the surface.
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It is a diver’s paradise famed for the highest concentration of marine species in the world but creatures in the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines are having to share space with vast amounts of plastic litter
Campaigners are calling for action, as the Verde Island Passage (VIP) is scientifically important.
It is part of the Coral Triangle, which makes it a global conservation priority, and is home to fish, shrimp, crabs, seaweeds, sea turtles and sea snakes.
The products spotted in the ‘VIP’ are from companies including Nestlé, Unilever, and Colgate Palmolive.
Abigail Aguilar, campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines, said: ‘This is undeniable proof of how irresponsible single-use plastic production by fast-moving consumer goods companies threatens our pristine environment.
Campaigners are calling for action, as the Verde Island Passage (VIP) is scientifically important. The products spotted in the ‘VIP’ are from companies including Nestlé, Unilever, and Colgate Palmolive
‘If big companies such as Nestlé and Unilever don’t respond to our calls for reduction in single-use plastic production, these places of “paradise” like Verde Island Passage, will be lost.’
Litter louts put hedgehogs at risk
Wildlife is increasingly being harmed by plastic waste dumped in the countryside, rescuers warned yesterday.
Hedgehogs put their heads into the plastic rings of beer cans or bottle caps, which cut into them as they grow.
Plastic netting used to protect ponds or vegetable patches can trap badgers, herons and other animals. Mice which scurry into plastic bottles because of the sweet-smelling contents also become caught.
Gill Lucraft, founder of the animal rescue service Hedgehog Bottom in Berkshire, said: ‘These animals are in severe decline and are dealing with enough natural issues without having to battle against our plastic waste as well.
‘We see hedgehogs trapped in all sorts of rubbish, from plastic bags and crisp packets, which they put their heads in, to elastic bands.’
Pauline Kidner, from Secret World Wildlife Rescue in Somerset, said: ‘Small mammals die in plastic bottles and sheep and cows eat plastic waste, damaging their health or even dying.’
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which is campaigning with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said plastic vegetable netting, cricket nets and football goals were all a risk to hedgehogs.
MailOnline has contacted the firms for comment but had yet to receive a response a the time of publication.
Studies show a truckload of plastic enters the world’s oceans every minute, or eight million tons in the average year.
In the Philippines the average person has been found to use 174 plastic shopping bags a year and many plastic sachets, while the country as a whole throws away around three million nappies every day.
Experts say the huge amount of single-use plastic is too much for cities to cope with.
A snapshot pollution report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives last year found Nestlé and Unilever were among the biggest brands responsible for household waste.
Greenpeace sent its Rainbow Warrior ship to South East Asia for a three-day underwater exploration, finding plastic which had been among the corals of the Verde Island Passage for a long time.
Branded packaging included products from Nestlé, Unilever, and Colgate Palmolive, as well as local brands Zagu milktea, Nutri-Asia, and Monde Nissin. The VIP provides food and livelihoods for more than two million people.
The Daily Mail has long campaigned to reduce plastic pollution and is urging readers to take part in the Great British Spring Clean, launched by Keep Britain Tidy, which will take place between March 22 and April 23.
With less than two weeks to go, 224,647 amazing people have volunteered their time.
To get involved, on your own or in a group, sign up at gbspringclean.org.
A spokesman for Unilever said: ‘We take the issue of plastic waste very seriously and are committed to reducing our plastic footprint.
‘We believe that plastic packaging is a resource which must be managed efficiently and effectively to ensure it stays in the economy and out of waterways and oceans.
‘The challenges associated with single-use plastics require urgent action from the whole industry.’
Colgate-Palmolive said in a statement: ‘The company will continue to innovate to reduce and eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging – 98 per cent of our packaging is now PVC-free, and our goal is to be 100 per cent PVC-free by next year.’
A spokesman for Nestlé said: ‘We understand and share people’s concern about the plastic waste issues that we face in the Philippines.
‘We remain steadfast in our commitment that 100% of our packaging should be recyclable or reusable by 2025.’
HOW DO MICROPLASTICS GET INTO THE OCEANS FROM RIVERS?
Urban flooding is causing microplastics to be flushed into our oceans even faster than thought, according to scientists looking at pollution in rivers.
Waterways in Greater Manchester are now so heavily contaminated by microplastics that particles are found in every sample – including even the smallest streams.
This pollution is a major contributor to contamination in the oceans, researchers found as part of the first detailed catchment-wide study anywhere in the world.
This debris – including microbeads and microfibres – are toxic to ecosystems.
Scientists tested 40 sites around Manchester and found every waterway contained these small toxic particles.
Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic debris including microbeads, microfibres and plastic fragments.
It has long been known they enter river systems from multiple sources including industrial effluent, storm water drains and domestic wastewater.
However, although around 90 per cent of microplastic contamination in the oceans is thought to originate from land, not much is known about their movements.
Most rivers examined had around 517,000 plastic particles per square metre, according to researchers from the University of Manchester who carried out the detailed study.
Following a period of major flooding, the researchers re-sampled at all of the sites.
They found levels of contamination had fallen at the majority of them, and the flooding had removed about 70 per cent of the microplastics stored on the river beds.
This demonstrates that flood events can transfer large quantities of microplastics from urban river to the oceans.