Submitted by Reef Check Malaysia
Participants in a March 3rd beach clean-up collected nearly 2,700 kg of trash from Malaysia’s coastline. Analysis revealed that plastic bottles and other plastic items accounted for a significant proportion of the trash collected, providing further evidence that urgent action is needed to address plastic pollution in our seas.
The clean-up was conducted at 16 locations around Malaysia and involved over 500 people from 20 organizations. Together they cleaned trash from 15km of coastline, filling nearly 400 trash bags. The trash collected included 15,874 plastic beverage bottles, 6,884 plastic bags, 2,368 cigarette butts…and 203 diapers.
Julian Hyde, General Manager of clean-up organizer Reef Check Malaysia (RCM), said: “We have been concerned about marine debris for some time. This clean-up shows just how big the problem is. Imagine if this were extrapolated to the whole of Malaysia.”
The clean-up is the first in a series of activities celebrating the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2018, and will hopefully raise awareness of the problem of marine debris, plastic in particular. Further events are being prepared for World Oceans Day and Coral Triangle Day, and in September RCM hopes to organize a nationwide clean-up event with partners and participants around Malaysia.
More importantly, the hope is to persuade government and other stakeholders to take action. Possible solutions include: a deposit scheme for plastic drink bottles; improved recycling schemes; barriers on rivers to stop trash from reaching the ocean; and, re-purposing plastic into useful products, providing revenue to coastal communities.
Hyde said: “This clean-up has proven that it is possible to mobilize large numbers of people to solve a problem, and we are grateful to all the people who joined in to make it a success. But we need to go beyond this – hopefully eventually to stop having to do beach clean-ups altogether by stopping the trash from getting there. We call on all players to get involved – government, food & drink companies, resorts and other tourism operators – everyone has a role to play if we are to find sustainable solutions to this problem.”