International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2018 – Registration for Organisers is open!

YRCC LCKeast2017

Greetings Organisers!

ICCS will be conducted on Sat 15th Sep 2018

The International Coastal Cleanup coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy is the data-gathering exercise held every September. Held in Singapore since 1992, we will conduct the exercise this year on the international date of the third Saturday in September – 15 Sep 2018.

Invitation to Organisers to register

We invite Organisers to register and to indicate your preferred sites and dates.

The ICCS team will review applications on end-May and end-June. Sites are allocated based on your familiarity with the site, your experience with ICCS, the site difficulty level and and your volunteer preparation, and the date of registration.

You will be informed by email.

Registrations will close at the end of June.

Workshops for Organisers in July

Workshops for Organisers and their assistants will be conducted by ICCS Zone Captains at NUS in July. Anyone who needs help in reviewing the site recce and safety assessment checklists must attend. While critical for new Organisers, the workshops can serve as a refresher for veterans who would contribute to the group discussions with peers.

You can choose ONE of three dates to attend the workshop – from Thu 05 Jul, Thu 12 Jul or Thu 19 Jul 2018. Please indicate your interest in the July workshop and we will re-confirm closer to the date. Should we open up more dates, we will make these available to you as well.

Other dates

If you are interested in conducting a cleanup at other times of the year (without data collection), please examine the options at this page: https://coastalcleanup.wordpress.com/year-round-cleanups/

Thank you for your interest in caring for the environment!

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg
c/o Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

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“Plastics: Enough trash talk” – the urgent need for collective action on plastic use in Singapore

An Earth Day 2018 message from 10 NGOs and interest groups, first published as an op-ed in The Straits Times, 18 Apr 2018.

It’s time to end the talk on plastics as trash. It can be a valuable resource for a small country like Singapore. But this is possible only if governments and businesses approach plastics the right way, and when individuals can look beyond waste disposal and realise the real impact of our plastic problem.


A supermarket plastic bag serves its real purpose for 30 minutes, the duration of a journey in Singapore. In a drink, a straw is utilised for just 5 minutes. The use of a plastic stirrer is even more short-lived: all of 10 seconds.

These items have fleeting lifespans, but they outlive us by a long shot – 400 years, to be exact.

Left in our environment, plastics affect ocean health and biodiversity, including corals, seabirds and endangered species. The problem does not simply end there.

Before they even enter our homes, plastics already contribute to climate change. Globally, the manufacturing of plastics consumes the same amount of fossil fuel as the entire aviation industry1.

We are living plastic in every way: eating2, drinking3 and even breathing4 it. Around the world, microplastics have been found in the guts of one out of four fish2, in tap water samples of 14 countries2 and even in air pollution.

Convenience numbs common sense

Little is being done to address this. There was a huge public outcry when the four largest supermarkets in Singapore floated the idea of a plastic bag charge. Recently, the government announced a decision against a plastic bag ban5, highlighting incineration as a solution.

In this all-or-nothing debate that focuses solely on plastic bags, we are missing the point: that we continue to have a major problem with plastic use.

Meanwhile, Singapore generated over 800 million kg of plastic waste last year, only 6% of which was recycled6.

The rest of the world is far ahead in taking action on plastic waste.

More than 40 countries have plastic bag bans or taxes in place, including China, Rwanda and Italy7. Just across the Causeway, Johor is set to ban plastic bags plastics and polystyrene by this year8. Last year, 39 governments announced new commitments to reduce the amount of plastic going into the sea9.

By not taking action to reduce plastic’s widespread use, we are perpetuating this global problem. It is high time for a mindset overhaul on plastic in Singapore.

Use less and “useless” plastic

Rather than an all-or-nothing approach, the key lies in understanding what we should use less of, and what we can and should eliminate.

There are “useless” or unnecessary plastics – those that provide a few extra minutes of convenience but are disposed after use. Most plastic straws, lids, cups and stirrers fall in this category. Refusing these useless plastics is an easy step to cutting down on plastic use.

There are plastics that are useful that we can still reduce. A case in point: plastic bags. Singapore’s current usage of plastic bags borders on the excessive. A person in Singapore is estimated to use about 13 plastic bags a day, much more than any household would need for trash disposal.

Alternatives in the form of reusables are widely available in the market today. A recent study by the National Environment Agency has found that a reusable bag replaces the use of 125 single-use plastic bags in a year10.

A plastic bag charge can be an effective way to reduce plastic use. Consumption of single-use plastic bags fell by 95 per cent when Ireland introduced a levy in 200211.

In Singapore, lifestyle store chain Miniso witnessed a 75% drop in plastic bag take-up rate after it implemented a $0.10 plastic bag charge in April 201712.

Not all plastics are trash

Even as individuals focus on using less plastic, a wider systemic change is needed to make plastics more useful. Globally, 95% of plastics worth up to US$120 billion are discarded after the first use13. Effective recycling ensures that we do not lose economic value from this useful material.

Plastic packaging cannot be eliminated, but it needs to be recovered.

In Singapore, packaging makes up a third of domestic waste. But not enough is being done to hold businesses accountable for the plastics they introduce into the market. In countries such as Japan, for instance, there are laws in place to ensure that businesses do their part to recycle14.

Separating plastic waste at the point of disposal also enhances recycling. Currently, Singapore does not require plastics to be segregated from other types of waste. This model undermines recycling efforts and instead incentivises incineration, including that of plastics.

Singapore has made a name for ourselves globally in recovering value from precious resources. We do this for paper and even the water we drink. Why aren’t we treating plastics the same way? An expensive, highly pollutive method like incineration should only be the last solution when all other options are unavailable.

Stop trash talking, start fixing

We have limited time to turn things around. With the looming global plastics crisis, business-as-usual cannot apply.

Businesses need to be held accountable for used plastic, however useful its purpose. This includes being responsible for the entire life cycle of plastics, from packaging to recovery after use.

On a national level, the channels and infrastructure need to be in place to effectively enable recycling by businesses and individuals. Incentives encourage manufacturers to take more responsibility, while disincentives like a plastic tax help spur much needed behaviour change.

To expedite the move towards a more sustainable future, individuals should also play their part by using less plastic, and supporting business and government measures that help address this issue.

We need to stop pushing the responsibility between individuals, businesses and government.

Everyone needs to step up and take action for a problem we will share with the next 16 generations.
— end —

About – Ahead of Earth Day on 22 April, ten NGOs and interest groups have co-signed this opinion piece, representing their shared view about the urgent need for collective action on plastic use in Singapore. They are:

  1. ASEAN CSR Network is a regional business organisation promoting responsible business practices.
  2. Ocean Recovery Alliance is a non-profit organisation working on solutions and collaborations to improve ocean health.
  3. Gone Adventurin’ is a business consultancy focused on driving circular economy in Asia.
  4. International Coastal Cleanup Singapore coordinates and organises marine trash clean-ups on beaches and mangroves.
  5. Plastic Disclosure Project works to reduce the environmental impact of plastics in products and packaging.
  6. Plastic-Lite Singapore is a volunteer community raising awareness about the over-use of disposable plastics.
  7. NUS Toddycats! is a volunteer group with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.
  8. Tingkat Heroes is an initiative working with communities, schools and businesses to go disposables-free.
  9. Team Small Change is a community that champions small individual changes for large environmental impact.
  10. WWF-Singapore is a global conservation organisation protecting the natural environment and resources.

Literature Cited

  1. Neufeld, L., Stassen, F., Sheppard, R., & Gilman, T., 2016. The new plastics economy: rethinking the future of plastics. In World Economic Forum. [link]
  2. Kosuth, Mary, Sherri A. Mason, and Elizabeth V. Wattenberg., 2018. “Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt.” PloS One, 13.4: e0194970. [link]
  3. Mason, S. A., Welch, V., Neratko, 2018. Synthetic polymer in contamination in bottled water. State University of New York at Fredonia, Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences, 17pp.[link].
  4. Gasperi, J., Wright, S. L., Dris, R., Collard, F., Mandin, C., Guerrouache, M., … & Tassin, B., 2018. Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in? Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health, 1: 1-5. [link]
  5. “Parliament: No plan to impose plastic bag levy, other types of disposable bags not much greener: Amy Khor,” by Samantha Boh & Audrey Tan. The Straits Times, 6 March 2018. [link].
  6. National Environment Agency, 2018. Waste Statistics and Overall Recycling [in Singapore], 2017. [link].
  7. “Kenya imposes world’s toughest law against plastic bags,” by Katharine Houreld & John Ndiso. Reuters, 28 August 2017 [link].
  8. “No more plastic bags in Johor supermarkets,” by anonymous. The Star, 14 Jun 2017 [link].
  9. “Nearly 200 nations promise to stop ocean plastic waste,” by Reuters Staff. Reuters, 07 Dec 2017 [link].
  10. National Environment Agency, 2018. Factsheet on findings from life-cycle assessment study on carrier bags and food packaging. 12pp. [link].
  11. Convery, F., McDonnell, S., Ferreira, S., 2007. The most popular tax in Europe? Lessons from the Irish plastic bags levy. Environmental and Resource Economics, , 38:1–11. [link]
  12. “Less demand when customers have to pay for plastic bags,” by Samantha Boh. The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2017. [link]
  13. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with the support of the World Economic Forum, 2017. The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics & Catalysing action. (Combined from the two reports, “The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the Future of Plastics (2016)” and “The New Plastics Economy – Catalysing Action (2017).
  14. “Japan’s holistic approach to recycling,” by Leon Kaye. The Guardian, 17 Jan 2012 [link].

3,500 volunteers from 80 organisations tackle marine trash as part of the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore

16 Sep 2017 – today, the third Saturday of September, is the official day of the International Coastal Cleanup and volunteers around the world are heading out to their shores, as the sun rises, to battle marine trash. In this three decades old citizen science exercise, volunteers collect, categorise and count trash before disposal in the effort to protect marine life.

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This year, some 3,500 volunteers have registered through 80 organisations for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. It is conducted mostly on the 8th and 23rd of September (less than 1.0m at 8am) in order to ensure the most effective cleanups during the maximal exposure of the low spring tides.

Data from the first batch of cleanups last week submitted by Organisers were published this morning at the ICCS webpage at coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg/results/2017.

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Now we look forward to a fruitful exercise on the 23rd of September 2017. If you would like to be part of the action, join ICCS Dy Coordinator Airani S at Changi Beach for Young Parents–ICCS beach cleanup – all are welcome, young and old, just click the image below!

Iccs young parents

Registration for Organisers opens for the 26th International Coastal Cleanup Singapore!

Announcement – ICCS 2017 Registration for Organisers is now open, with results of Site Allocation to be released in early-May, end-May and end-Jun 2017.

Greetings Organisers!

The International Coastal Cleanup is coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy in Washington DC, USA. Every the third Saturday of September, volunteers around the world rise up with the sun to head out to conduct a cleanup at shores and waterways with a difference – in this programme, they collect, categorise, record and remove trash, and have done so since 1986!

In Singapore, ICC Organisers have facilitated the contribution of thousands of volunteers to the International Coastal Cleanup program in Singapore since 1992. It is the 26th year of ICCS in 2017, and once again we welcome Organisers to lead volunteers to participate in this meaningful activity!

Dates and tides
Sites difficulty and recce reports can be reviewed at sites.coastalcleanupsingapore.org. Do review the evaluation of the site and examine photos and results from previous years to prepare yourself.

New Organisers can familiarise themselves with the operational needs of organising a cleanup at at the Organiser’s Page here.

Mark the dates – Sat 09 Sep 2017 (Mangroves) & Sat 23 Sep 2017 (Beaches)

The tidal heights in Singapore (Sembawang) are:

  • Sat 09 2017: 0800 – 0.6m; 0900 – 1.0m
  • Sat 23 Sep 2017: 0800 – 0.8m; 0900 – 1.2m

Mangrove and beach cleanups will be held two weeks apart to allow mangrove workers a wider area of access at their sites. Beach cleanups on the 9th of September should preferably begin by 8.00am as usual, for the tide rises to 2.5 meters by midday.

Registration – Organisers can now register your groups for participation in September’s data gathering cleanup. Indicate your preferred sites and dates here.

ICCS map

Site Allocations Exercise I – III

The ICCS team will conduct Site Allocations Exercises based on the Organiser’s experience with ICCS, earliness of registration, familiarity with the site, volunteer preparation, and site difficulty. The results of these exercises will be announced at early-May, end-May and end-June and listed at status.coastalcleanupsingapore.org.

Registration will be closed thereafter.

ICCS2014-SAX.jpg

 

Workshops for Organisers in July

The workshop will conducted by the Zone Captains at NUS and are meant for Organisers and their assistants only. The workshop is critical for new organisers but also useful to veterans to participate and anyone who needs help in reviewing the site recce and safety assessment checklist.

There will be three small group evening sessions for you to chose from on Fri 7th July, Fri 14th July or Fri 21st July 2017. Simply indicate your intent during registration and we will confirm your attendance later. If July is inconvenient, indicate your available period and your Zone Captains will try to arrange a quick catchup session with you another time.

ICCS2016_Organiser_Workshop

 

Year-round coastal cleanups (YRCC)

You can also organize cleanups at any other time of the year if you wish – numerous groups have been making a difference this way at non-recreational sites throughout the year. Please see Year-Round Coastal Cleanup guidelines, and contact us accordingly.

YRCC2016-SWWD_640x480.jpeg

 

What about individual participation?

“Independents” are a highly valuable community of motivated individuals who sign up independently to participate in cleanups organised by ICCS. To be kept notified, join the mailing list by sending an empty email to iccs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. This low volume list has less than 10 emails annually. Or keep a lookout for announcements of cleanups here.

Thank you for your interest in caring for the environment!

N. Sivasothi

Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Job: Full-time Research Assistant – NUS-NParks Marine Debris Project (apply by 15 Nov 2016)

The full-time Research Assistant will manage the NUS-NParks Marine Debris project which includes desktop and field research, data mining, analysis and establishment of a database and management of an education programme including workshops.

Apply for the position at JobsBANK.

The job responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Literature review to establish, from published works and existing data, a baseline assessment of the current status of marine debris in Singapore
  • Design and conduct experiments and field surveys to document and monitor marine debris
  • Data management, integration, synthesis and analysis
  • Establish a data submission and sharing mechanism
  • Develop an integrated national citizen science programme to monitor marine debris
  • Develop educational resources
  • Prepare and conduct workshop to build capacity and facilitate information-sharing
  • Draft reports, recommendations and publications
  • Organise a conference at the end of the project
  • Report to and work with the principal investigator and project manager

Job Requirements:
Essential

  • An undergraduate degree in Sciences/Biology/Environmental Studies or a biology-related field
  • Familiar with literature review and research
  • Excellent data management and analysis skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills and able to work with different groups of people
  • Some experience with volunteer work in nature or environment projects
  • Highly organised and proactive
  • Able to work independently and meet deadlines

Desirable

  • A B.Sc. (Hons) degree with experience in biology or ecology research
  • Have good knowledge and experience on marine debris and micro-plastics
  • Proficient in field surveys and monitoring of marine debris
  • Familiar with citizen science programmes
  • Excellent in interacting with local agencies and groups
  • Experience in organising workshops and conferences

Dengue/Zika advisory for ICCS Organisers, 02 Sep 2016

Dear Organisers,

here is an advisory about dengue and zika:

The urban mosquito Aedes aegypti is responsible for dengue and zika in Singapore. There have been more than 11,000 cases of dengue with seven deaths so far this year and we expect to see the number of cases increase. The detection of the zika virus, though less widespread, is harder to detect from symptoms and is currently appears to be on the increase.

Singaporeans can continue with their daily activity but must take precautions:

  • Be informed about dengue (NEA Guidelines) and Zika (MOH page) share the information
  • Do the 10-minute 5-step Mozzie Wipeout at home and at the workplace (NEA webpage)
  • Avoid dengue clusters where possible (check the NEA map and list) as well as zika affected areas and areas of concern (check recent news releases)
  • Prevent mosquito bites through:
    • i) protective dressing which covers exposed skin,
    • ii) the correct application of insect repellents with DEET (NEA webpage)
    • and iii) the use of mosquito nets while sleeping.

Organisers participating in the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore have cleanup dates over three weekends in September. Our cleanup sites do not overlap dengue hotspots, are not in affected areas of the Zika outbreak so far, and do not take place at the typical feeding time of A. aegypti, i.e. at dusk and dawn. Still, we are monitoring the situation closely and will alert you if there is cause for concern.

Our advise to Organisers is the following:

  1. Prevent – advise your participants to take preventive action through protective dressing and appropriate application of insect repellent once you leave the house. Check the DEET concentration and reapply the repellent as needed, especially if you perspire profusely.
  2. Support – Have an additional supply of insect repellent available for volunteers in case they do not have their own supply.
  3. Aware – Monitor news release of dengue hotspots and new cases of Zika though the NEA newsroom and local news agencies (e.g. Straits Times Zika microsite).
  4. Decide – If your cleanup site is in an affected area, call off your cleanup immediately; do not hesitate, and inform your zone captain.

Monitoring
Zone Captains will alert you if any critical information is released. Thus far, we have cancelled one cleanup site at Kranji East (03 Sep 2016) which was near an area of concern for Zika, and we are monitoring the status at another site at Kranji Bund (17 Sep 2016).

Priority: Safety!
Safety is a priority for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and participation in the coastal cleanup is entirely voluntary. We encourage all participants and Organisers to withdraw at any point that they feel uncomfortable with proceeding with a cleanup. It is better to err on the side of caution.

Have safe cleanup everyone!

Cheerio!

Sivasothi

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
c/o Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Haze Advisory for ICCS 2016 Organisers, 31 Aug 2016

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore email to the 85 Organisers of the 25th ICCS 2016: the Haze Advisory for Organisers (31 Aug 2016), advice to monitor Zika outbreak sites through NEA News Releases and a reminder of the SOP – to reiterate to volunteers the Advice for Participants just before the cleanup.

Dear Organisers,

This is an advisory about the haze situation in Singapore in relation to your coastal cleanup event. This is for Organisers without formal organisational guidelines and who require advice about how to respond to the haze.

Note: Use NEA’s 1-hour PM2.5 readings at haze.gov.sg (and not the 24-hour PSI)

  • No completely accurate forecast values are available but a daily forecast is provided at http://www.haze.gov.sg
  • NEA’s 1-hour PM2.5 readings are the best indication of ground conditions for short-term activity such as a coastal cleanup of between 60 – 90 mins
  • NEA’s 1-hour PM2.5 readings are available at on the myENV app and at their webpage here

Here are our suggested guidelines using the 1-hour PM2.5 values for coastal cleanups: 

  • If 1-hour PM2.5 values are more than 55.5µg/m3 (Band II Elevated), sensitive people should properly wear their N95 mask
  • If 1-hour PM2.5 values are between 100 µg/m3 – 150 µg/m3 (upper region of Band II Elevated), everyone should properly wear an N95 mask 
  • If 1-hour PM2.5 values are more than 150µg/m3 (Band III Very High), call off the cleanup and inform your Zone Captain

Safety is the priority; Organisers decide about cancelling their cleanups as needed

  • Safety is the priority of any coastal cleanup exercise. 
  • The Organiser will call off their coastal cleanup at any point they feel they need to, even if pollution readings are not high
  • When in doubt, err on the side of safety to protect participants from both immediate and long-term effects. 
  • Please inform your Zone Captain about your cancellation so we may advise NEA about cancelling trash pickup.

Precautions for individuals with potential respiratory problems

  • Some individuals may have potential respiratory problems – Organisers must ask participants to declare their condition before their cleanup.
  • Assign such individuals data recording duty to avoid over exertion as a precaution against sudden changes in haze conditions.
  • Such individuals should, as always, bring their prescribed inhalers/personal medication with them.
  • Remind all participants to alert their Organiser about any feeling of discomfort they may be experiencing at any time.

Responsibilities of cleanup participants

Bring your mask and water

  • 1. All cleanup participants must bring their own N95 mask and to be familiar with its use; refer to the proper use of an N95 mask:
    • Six steps to wearing the N95 mask (MOH): link
    • Use of masks and availability of masks (MOH): link
  • 2. Wear your mask at anytime you feel it is necessary to do so, even if 1-hour PSI levels are not high.
  • 3. All participants must bring their own supply of water to hydrate well and frequently throughout the cleanup.

Alert your Organiser and take precautions

  • 4. Participants must advise their Organisers if they are feeling unwell or experiencing discomfort at any time; e.g. experiencing irritation of the skin or eyes, or of their nasal passages or throat. 
  • 5. Anyone who feels any discomfort should wash their face, wear their N95 mask and leave the site for a filtered air environment immediately.

Do not exert yourself

  • 6. Do not exert yourself when picking up and categorising trash to avoid strenuous work. 
  • 7. Large trash items such as barrels and tyres can be recorded without removal and may be left on the shore for removal another time.

— end —

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
c/o Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore