Taiwan’s 2nd ICC in 2010 a larger event

“Environmental groups to launch nationwide coastal cleanup Sept. 18,” by Lee Hsien-feng and Sofia Wu. CNA (Focus Taiwan), 03 Sep 2010.

“Taipei, Sept. 3 (CNA) Coastal cleanup activities will be held around Taiwan Sept. 18 in support of a global ocean conservation campaign, major local environmental groups said Friday.

The advocacy groups, including the Taiwan Environmental Information Association, the Society of Wilderness (SOW) and the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation, said environmentally conscious people are welcome to take part in the coastal cleanup program.

Quantitative data concerning trash to be picked up from coastal regions around Taiwan that day will be sent to the headquarters of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) in Texas, said an SOW spokesman.

The ICC has evolved from a single cleanup on a Texas beach 25 years ago into a worldwide movement dedicated to ending the threat of trash in oceans around the globe, the spokesman said.

Every year in September, volunteers in more than 100 countries remove millions of pounds of trash from beaches and waterways all over the world as part of the global volunteer effort for ocean conservation, he added.

According to the spokesman, the biggest difference between the ICC’s activities and other similar programs is that the ICC provides a form to record what was found in the cleanup.

“The trash and debris collected from the world’s beaches and waterways will be documented for analysis to identify their sources,” the spokesman said.

The ICC campaign, he said, is aimed at reminding the public of the gravity of ocean pollution and changing the behavior that allows trash and debris to reach the ocean in the first place.

Taiwan joined the ICC campaign last year for the first time, with 370 volunteers taking part in a 2.12-kilometer coastal cleanup effort that removed 172 kilograms of trash from beaches and coastal waters, the spokesman said.

This year, the spokesman said, all of the SOW branches in various parts of Taiwan will launch a coastal cleanup on Sept. 18, along with environmental groups in many other countries, including Australia.

“Prospective volunteers are welcome to search the SOW map to find a coastal site near them and sign up online (at www.sow.org.tw) for the activity,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation will document all the trash collected in Taiwan during the period and furnish the data to the ICC headquarters.”

“The Majestic Plastic Bag”

The Majestic Plastic Bag” – Heal the Bay, 2010.

This article explains the motivation behind the video: “Heal The Bay releases mockumentary promoting legislation banning plastic bags in California,” by Steve La. LA Weekly Blogs, 16 Aug 2010.

A mockumentary released today by Heal the Bay aims to promote the passage of AB 1998, a state measure that would ban the single-use of plastic bags in retail stores in California, according to a release by the nonprofit.

Actor Jeremy Irons narrated the four-minute piece, dubbed “The Majestic Plastic Bag,” that follows a plastic bag’s journey from a supermarket parking lot to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the Pacific Ocean.

The short film delivers a message of environmental conservation wrapped in comedic satire.

“Rather than lecturing the audience, we wanted to create a film that would capture people’s attention with humor,” stated Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. “At the same time, we saw this as subversive way to make viewers realize the serious, far-reaching problem of single-use plastic bag pollution.

Around 19 billion plastic bags are used by Californians that amount to 123,000 tons of waste. Many bags end up in the ocean with less than five percent being recycled, according to Heal the Bay.

The bill is scheduled for a floor vote in the California Senate at the end of August. Governor Arnold Schwarzennegar has expressed support for it. If passed, California would be the first state to ban single-use plastic bags at retail locations.

Update, 31 Aug 2010 – “the state Senate failed Tuesday night, August 31, 2010, to approve AB 1998, the Heal the Bay-sponsored bill that would have barred the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies statewide.” More at Heal the Bay.

Thanks to Tan Kai Xin for highlighting this on facebook earlier!

UNEP – Marine Litter: A Global Challenge

Click to download.

Press release:
UNEP Head Calls for World-Wide Ban on Pointless Thin Film Plastic Bags

“Washington DC/Nairobi, 8 June 2009 – From discarded fishing gear to plastic bags to cigarette butts, a growing tide of marine litter is harming oceans and beaches worldwide, says a new report.

The report, the first-ever attempt to take stock of the marine litter situation in the 12 major regional seas around the world, was launched on World Oceans Day by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ocean Conservancy.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said:

“Marine litter is symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources. The plastic bags, bottles and other debris piling up in the oceans and seas could be dramatically reduced by improved waste reduction, waste management and recycling initiatives”.

“Some of the litter, like thin film single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased-out rapidly everywhere-there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere. Other waste can be cut by boosting public awareness, and proposing an array of economic incentives and smart market mechanisms that tip the balance in favor of recycling, reducing or re-use rather than dumping into the sea,” he said.

The report’s findings indicate that despite several international, regional and national efforts to reverse marine pollution, alarming quantities of rubbish thrown out to sea continue to endanger people’s safety and health, entrap wildlife, damage nautical equipment and deface coastal areas around the world.

“This report is a reminder that carelessness and indifference is proving deadly for our oceans and its inhabitants,” says Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International and Ocean Conservancy board member. “Offered here are more than mere facts and figures. The time for action is now, and true change will require taking a bold and courageous stand. There are solutions that everyone, everywhere in the world, can adopt to make a positive difference for our water planet.”

Plastics and cigarettes top the “Top Ten” of marine debris

Plastic – especially plastic bags and PET bottles – is the most pervasive type of marine litter around the world, accounting for over 80 per cent of all rubbish collected in several of the regional seas assessed.

Plastic debris is accumulating in terrestrial and marine environments worldwide, slowly breaking down into tinier and tinier pieces that can be consumed by the smallest marine life at the base of the food web. Plastics collect toxic compounds that then can get into the bodies of organisms that eat the plastic. Global plastic production is now estimated at 225 million tons per year.

Plastics can be mistaken as food by numerous animals, including marine mammals, birds, fish and turtles. Sea turtles in particular may confuse floating plastic bags with jellyfish, one of their favorite treats.

A five-year survey of fulmars found in the North Sea region found that 95 percent of these seabirds contained plastic in their stomachs. Studies of the Northeast Atlantic plankton have found plastic in samples dating back to the 1960s, with a significant increase in abundance in time.

Smoking-related activities also receive top rankings when it comes to sources of marine litter. Cigarette filters, tobacco packets and cigar tips make up 40 per cent of all marine litter in the Mediterranean, while in Ecuador smoking-related rubbish accounted for over half of the total coastal litter ‘catch’ in 2005.

“The ocean is our life support system – it provides much of the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat and climate we need to survive – yet trash continues to threaten its health,” said Vikki Spruill President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “The impact of marine debris is clear and dramatic; dead and injured wildlife, littered beaches that discourage tourism and choked ocean ecosystems. Marine debris is one of the most widespread pollution threats facing our ocean and it is completely preventable.”

Continue reading

Ocean Conservancy: International Coastal Cleanup Report 2009

Ocean Conservancy released the international results earlier this month entitiled, “A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It.”

Click the image to download these report:

  • 2009 Full Report
  • Executive Summary
  • Marine Debris Index
  • Additional Charts and Tables

“Each year, Ocean Conservancy provides a compelling global snapshot of marine debris collected on one day at thousands of sites all over the world during the International Coastal Cleanup held the third Saturday of each September.

This year’s report, A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It, presents data recorded by nearly 400,000 volunteers in 104 countries and locations and 42 US states at the 23rd annual Cleanup.

Key findings include:

  • A tidal wave of ocean debris is a major pollution problem of the 21st century
  • Of the 43 items tracked during the Cleanup, the top three items of trash found in 2008 were cigarette butts, plastic bags, and food wrappers/containers.
  • Marine debris kills. Every year, thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals are sickened, injured, or killed because of trash in the ocean.
  • Marine debris degrades ocean health and compromises the ocean’s ability to adapt to climate change.

ICC 2007 report from the Ocean Conservancy

I received this in my inbox this morning. Flipping through I noticed that Singapore has a relatively enthusiastic participation – our 3,000 + volunteers make it the 13th most numerous turnout out of the 76 countries that participate. As it is we are running out of beaches. To give you an idea of scale though, in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has a stupendous turnout of more than 51,000 volunteers!

You can download the report by clicking the image below.

ICC 2007 Report – 6 million pounds of trash on world’s beaches

Group finds 6 million pounds of trash on world’s beaches,” by H. Josef Hebert. Associated Press/ Yahoo News, 16 Apr 2008. [6 million pounds = 2,722 tonnes]

The world’s beaches and shores are anything but pristine. Volunteers scoured 33,000 miles of shoreline worldwide and found 6 million pounds of debris from cigarette butts and food wrappers to abandoned fishing lines and plastic bags that threaten seabirds and marine mammals.

A report by the Ocean Conservancy, to be released Wednesday, catalogues nearly 7.2 million items that were collected by volunteers on a single day last September as they combed beaches and rocky shorelines in 76 countries from Bahrain to Bangladesh and in 45 states from southern California to the rocky coast of Maine.

“This is a snapshot of one day, one moment in time, but it serves as a powerful reminder of our carelessness and how our disparate and random actions actually have a collective and global impact,” Vikki Spruill, president of the Ocean Conservancy said in an interview.

The 378,000 volunteers on average collected 182 pounds of trash for every mile of shoreline, both ocean coastlines and beaches on inland lakes and streams, providing a “global snapshot of the ocean trash problem.”

The most extensive cleanup was in the United States where 190,000 volunteers covered 10,110 miles — about a third of the worldwide total — and picked up 3.9 million pounds of debris on a single Saturday last September, according to the report.

That’s 390 pounds of trash per mile, among the highest rates of any country, although the high number also reflects the large number of U.S. volunteers who took part, said Spruill. By comparison, volunteers in neighboring Canada collected 74 pounds per mile and those in Mexico, 157 pounds per mile, said the report. About 65 pounds of trash were collected per mile in China and 46 pounds per mile in New Zealand. Volunteers covered one mile in Bahrain and found 300 pounds of trash.

But Spruill said the volume of trash collected tells only part of the story. It’s the items that are found that tells us about the behavior of people enjoying the beaches and coastlines of the world.

“It represents a general carelessness we have. … We’re the bad guys. Trash doesn’t fall from the sky. It actually falls from our hands,” said Spruill.

The debris ranges from the relatively harmless, although annoying and an eyesore, to items that annually result in the death of hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine mammals caught in abandoned fishing lines and netting.

Continue reading

NOAA Marine Debris Programme

NOAA has setup a marine debris resource site!

See marinedebris.noaa.gov – besides information about the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the site includes on the various types of marine debris and its sources, publications and educational resources for addressing marine debris issues, news from across the globe regarding marine debris issues and a gallery of photos.

NOAA Marine Debris Program - Welcome

Dewi tells a long story – “ICC-Bintan (Lagoi)!”

It’s ICC-Bintan day today!!!

A small group of us from Singapore (Siva, Airani, Huaqin and I) left for Bintan Island, Indonesia last night at about 8 p.m. I took a cab from Clementi and then picked Airani (who just knocked off from work!!) and Huaqin and then we went to Holland Village to get our boss, Siva!

During the ride to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) chatting about so many issues, we had to stop when we realised the taxi uncle wanted to listen to the TOTO or 4D results over the radio.. :p


There, I discovered I was supposed to be the Expedition Leader – maybe because I am the only Indonesian amongst the four of us! [No, Dewi, its because all of this was your doing, from proposal to the earlier recce and briefing in Bintan; we are merely your followers! – Siva]. Sadly this Expedition Leader did not even print out the complimentary ticket sheet generously provided by Mr. Ranan Samanya, our contact person in Bintan, who is also the overall coordinator for ICC-Bintan. [Luckily Airani jubilantly announced she had it!]

We reached Bintan at about 8 pm. (Yes, I did not make a mistake here :p the time difference between Bintan and Singapore is 1 hour). Mr Ranan met us at the ferry terminal and then drove us for dinner at Pasar Oleh-Oleh or the Souvenir Market after Airani’s enthusiastic suggestion that we eat first! There, we had a feast! We had satay, crabs, otak-otak and a lot more good food! Thanks a lot for the treat, Mr. Ranan! :p

After a good dinner, we headed to Bintan Lodge for the night. It was a big serviced apartment which was nice and spacious. And more important, it was also generously provided for us by PT. Bintan Resort Cakrawala! :p

Most of us had a good sleep. We woke up at about 630 a.m. (local time) and was rather disappointed with the very heavy rain that had started at about 6 a.m. It continued to rain till about 7.20am when Mr. Ranan fetched us from our place of stay to Pasir Panjang, the cleanup site.


Pasir Panjang is also a site for turtle landings. There has been a lot of turtle eggs found along that stretch of beach. One staff, (I think his name was Muradu) said that he once collected 128 eggs from just one turtle nest for the hatchery project! Villagers had also been collecting eggs for consumption, however, gradually, it is hoped that with education and patrols, this will stop. As part of the turtle conservation program, the eggs will be collected and then placed in the turtle hatchery at Nirwana Gardens. After the eggs hatch, the little turtles are released!

On our way to the cleanup site, Mr. Ranan nearly made a wrong turn; we we looked back, we realised there were about 5 cars and a bus following us! These were the other participants driving from the BRC staff housing to the cleanup site.

And so…it the midst of the drizzle, all of us, participants of ICC-Bintan braced the rain and headed towards the site. The trash load was rather heavy. It was very obvious that plastic bottles and Styrofoam chunks and bits were all over the place!


Mr. Ranan did a short briefing about the cleanup. At first, I thought I would have to conduct some kind of briefing for the participants (like I do in Singapore and so I brought my briefing materials). Gladly, however, I did not need to! We were introduced to the participants as “team from Singapore”! Hoho… :p In this sire, three teams were formed from the 63 participants from Bintan Resort Cakerawala (BRC) and the four of us. Technically, each team was supposed to take care of a stretch of approximately 50m. Next came the distribution of gloves, data cards and gunny sacks and some trash bags. The cleanup started at about 8.20 am.

The four of us from ICC Singapore started immediately right where we were – there was so much trash that we realised we would not be moving very far! We then worked on an area approximately 5 x 10 metres and the first that struck us was the number of slippers and shoes that we found! These were just numerous! They came in various sizes, for adults as well as children. Airani even found some pairs! I thought that it might indeed be good if these can be reused! Haha.. :p

The other common trash items were plastic bottles, Styrofoam bits (and chunks), glass bottles, ropes, nets, lighters and rubber sheets. In order to cope with the heavy load, we put the same kind of trash in heaps and counted them as we bagged them later. The Indonesians nearby overlapped our area and we worked together bagging, counting as well as recording.

We kept up the work and kept gathering the trash in piles. When we finally looked up from our work, the shoreline was cleaner, and a heap of bags had been arranged on the beach!


Airani took a look at those bags piling up and suggested we start the weighing process – earlier, the Indonesians had climbed up a tree to suspend a weighing scale! An efficient weighing team was in place so we left them to it and helped the few who were transferring the weighed trash to the trash collection point (TCP). Unfortunately, this involved climbing a steep slope and moving the trash proved to be tiring and difficult!



We kept forming a human chain whenever we could and we joined the Indonesians in pouring out the contents of the bags and sacks into specific piles at the TCP. The empty bags were sent back out to the beach where they were sorely needed. A lorry was coming later to pick this all up for the landfill.

The participants were hardworking and excited. Working in the midst of a drizzle, they worked enthusiastically to collect, bag, count and record the trash. Kudos to them! Their spirit was really encouraging and that somehow helped to keep the four of us, who were exhausted, going!

Weighed, bagged trash started arriving by boats form other sites. Time for another human chain! From the shore to the weighing station, we tossed the lighter bags and carried the heavy bags and the human chain mae it manageable! With more bags weighed, Airani, Siva and Huaqin formed another human chain and Siva started tossing the lighter bags with plastic bottles or styrofoam “up-in-the-air” at Hua Qin further up the slope! :p



More trash came in by boats. Work, work,work! We heard later that the plastic bottles would be sent to a recycling plant in Bintan. How cool is that!!!

By about 9.20 a.m. some participants from distant sites started making their way back to us. Most of them were really tired. Some of the volunteers are even fasting! I really salute their high spirits and strong determination. Well done!



The cleanup was also conducted at other resorts. In total, more than one hundred people were involved. It was indeed encouraging to see such a good response from the people, especially the management team.

During the cleanup, we met Irene, a Singaporean working as the business development manager in Bintan. She was interested in incorporating the cleanup with educational activities for students and she and Siva had a very good talk right at the end of the cleanup.

The cleanup ended after about 90-100 minutes, with majority of the bagged trash removed by boats or collected at the TCP. The logistics crew stayed behind to account for the walkie-talkies, clipboards etc and the bags/sacks and data cards.

In Mr Ranan’s car, the rest of them joked about how pink I was and the pink, Japanese-looking hat was such a disappointing image for an Expedition Leader! Shrugs… what can I say? Pink is such a lovely color! How can they not appreciate how pretty pink is!!! *complain complain*


Yupz…so…after washing up, we had lunch. Then Mr. Ranan brought us to Wisma where we met Albel Singh, the General Manager of BRC. To our pleasant surprise, we were each given Bintan Resort caps as souvenirs! :p We were told by Mr. Ranan that the management was enthusiastic about sponsoring the event next year and hoped to involve the whole island, especially the local people. Yay!

Before leaving, we dropped in for a quick shopping trip at the Bandung Factory Outlet while Siva and Mr Ranan discussed the education programme in Bahasa that should accompany next year’s cleanup. Then we off on our 2.30 pm ferry looking through the photos taken, receiving Mr Ranan’s about the data and after some time, everyone went silent…zzzzzzz!

And yeah! Here we come back to Singapore!! It was pouring lor… :p

Initially, I had hoped we could have recruited more participants from Singapore. Busy with a seemingly hopeless final year project…still, I should not be giving excuses… [You also just completed your ICCS Site Captain duties and the t-shirt project, so I’ll readily agree you were busy]. However, Siva might be right – keeping the group small for the first time out might prove to be a good option. After knowing more about the site and operations, we can better plan for next year. Then we can publicise!

I personally feel that the cleanup was really a success. The coordination was excellent and the participants were really good! The use of gunny sacks was really useful since trash bags would not be able to handle glass and the heavy load. The reuse of the gunny sacks (when we ran out) and the reuse for next year’s cleanup was really brilliant! This cleanup was more tiring than any I have done before, and thus was more fruitful and satisfying!


Thanks to BRC for sponsoring the trip! We really had a great time, away from the busy lifestyle here in Singapore. Truly, the city can wait!! =)

We said Dewi, being an engineer, could not write a long story. Well, she obviously proved us wrong! – Siva

Links to photo albums.