Two-year study to look into marine litter, microplastics

Volunteers picking up trash at East Coast Park last year. The bulk of Singapore's beach litter comes from marine trash brought in by natural tidal waves, said Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan, adding that it is cha
Volunteers picking up trash at East Coast Park last year. The bulk of Singapore's beach litter comes from marine trash brought in by natural tidal waves, said Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan, adding that it is challenging to identify the sources of the trash.ST FILE PHOTO

A two-year study by the National Environment Agency (NEA) is under way to understand the levels and pathways of marine litter and microplastics in the waters in and around Singapore. And its results may be used to support recommendations for future initiatives, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan told Parliament yesterday.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) had raised concerns about the volumes of marine debris flowing here, and said the upcoming Khatib Bongsu nature park could face the problem of being covered by marine debris, which appears to be "never-ending".

Mr Tan said in the previous two years, NEA cleared an average of about 3,500 tonnes of marine debris a year from beaches here. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore further collected about 1,000 tonnes of debris from the sea each year.

Said Mr Tan: "The bulk of our beach litter actually comes from the marine trash that is brought in by our natural tidal waves." He added that it is challenging to identify the sources of the trash, and while items of debris might have labels on them, these indicate only the manufacturer, not the ship they came from.

Strict regulations are in place to minimise marine trash and reduce pollution, on top of cleaning efforts, he noted. "Despite all these regulations, there are still tonnes of garbage that are swept onto our beaches every day. We thank the many community groups and individuals for stepping forward to keep (these places) clean, and NEA will continue to do its part," he added.

Toh Ting Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2021, with the headline 'Two-year study to look into marine litter, microplastics'. Subscribe