The Philippines joins thousands of volunteers in over 150 countries, continuing the country’s active participation in the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day, a global initiative dedicated to addressing ocean pollution through beach and waterway cleanups held every third Saturday of September.

Now on its 37th year, the Philippines has been participating in the ICC since 1994. In 2003, Proclamation No. 470 officially designated the third Saturday in September as ICC Day, instilling a sense of vigilance among Filipinos in their support of the ongoing global fight against marine litter. The theme "Clean Seas for Healthy Fisheries" is carried by this year’s ICC which aligns closely with the objectives of the United Nations (UN) Ocean Decade Challenge 3 which is to “Sustainably Feed the Global Population”. This challenge recognizes the need to ensure sustainable food production from the ocean to feed the growing global population while safeguarding the health and productivity of marine ecosystems.

In partnership with numerous organizations, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) took the lead in coordinating cleanups in various water bodies across the country. An estimated 35,000 volunteers armed with sacks, rakes, and gloves joined forces for the cleanup effort across the country. Participants included individuals and groups from the DENR workforce, national and local government agencies, academia, the private sector, youth organizations, civic groups, and civil society.

Concurrent coastal cleanups led by various DENR offices and bureaus were held nationwide including key areas such as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park; the Tullahan River along Barangay San Bartolome in Novaliches, Quezon City; Baseco Beach in Manila; the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park in Bataan; Barangay Butong Taal in Batangas; the Mactan Channel in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu; the Abatan River and Panglao in Bohol; Banica River in Dumaguete; Bais City, Negros Oriental; and along the shore of Pagadian Bay in Zamboanga Del Sur.

The DENR regional and field offices also partnered with SM Supermalls, through its corporate social responsibility arm, SM Cares, together with SM Prime Holdings, Inc, in organizing clean-up drives in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Fifteen SM Malls were designated as a base that enabled volunteers, including SM employees, to actively participate in the cleanup drive. Likewise, regional offices of the Department have collaborated with UNTV offices across the country under the latter’s advocacy campaign Ocean Care Initiative.

Beyond waste retrieval, ICC volunteers documented the volume of waste collected which will be submitted to Ocean Conservancy and UN Ocean Decade to contribute to global efforts to combat plastic pollution.

During the 2022 ICC, findings of the Global Ocean Trash Index conducted by Washington, D.C.-based environmentalist advocacy group Ocean Conservancy showed that the Philippines collected 249.382 metric tons of waste. The collected waste encompassed a spectrum of items, including cigarette butts, beverage bottles, food wrappers, bottle caps, grocery bags, food containers, cups and plates, straws, and stirrers.

Under the leadership of Secretary Antonia Loyzaga, the DENR is unwavering in its commitment to enacting effective solid waste management practices. DENR supports a circular economy wherein all plastics are reused, recycled, repurposed, and responsibly managed.

The DENR, in collaboration with organizations, implements a range of programs to address solid waste in cities and municipalities nationwide. This is in support of reinforcing the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022 or Republic Act 11898 which mandates enterprises to establish EPR programs for plastic waste reduction, recovery, and diversion.#