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  Straits Times 20 Sep 07
The coast is not clear: tyre and table among trash found
By Shobana Kesava

Straits Times 16 Sep 07
The foam on the shore is really styrofoam
It tops list of junk washing up on coasts here. What's worse, it fragments badly and poses threat to marine life
By Shobana Kesava

UNLIKE anywhere else in the world where cigarettes make up the bulk of junk collected on beaches, in Singapore it is styrofoam.

This material has been picked up in increasing amounts over the last five years, said Mr N. Sivasothi, coordinator of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS).

The ICCS, an annual clean-up event, is the only concerted effort by volunteers here to analyse the kinds of trash that land up on local shores.

'Styrofoam is potentially much more damaging because it can fragment badly, whereas cigarette butts stay whole,' said Mr Sivasothi.

'The overwhelming problem we have is of plastic consumer items in the sea. As they break down, the chemicals that leach from them can be toxic.'

Plastics are also a threat to birds, which are known to mistake them for food.

Preliminary data from this weekend's coastal clean-up saw styrofoam caking up the coastlines of both mangrove swamps and beaches.

While the most litter - all 29,801 pieces of it - was collected along the East Coast, Pulau Ubin Beach proved the dirtiest when factors such as the density of the litter collected by volunteers were factored in.

Mr Sivasothi attributed the problem at Ubin in part to dumping.

'There is a lot of heavy litter like oil drums and furniture parts. Offshore farms may have contributed to this load.'

The litter at the East Coast beaches was linked to heavy usage.

'Where there is recreation, there is rubbish,' he said.

Straits Times 20 Sep 07
The coast is not clear: tyre and table among trash found
By Shobana Kesava

IT TOOK six men to hoist the unwieldy plastic road barrier out of the muddy mangroves, another three to weigh it and one more to record their find. Jotting down the figure, teacher-volunteer Steve Early said: 'This one weighs in at 19kg.'

Hauled out in the next 10 minutes were a 46kg tyre and a wooden table that could seat eight which needed dismantling before it could be weighed. They were duly recorded under 'dumping activities' on the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore's (ICCS) data card of human-made debris, trash and litter.

The 150 teacher and student volunteers from the Singapore American School were at the Kranji mangroves cleaning up a short 400-metre stretch of shoreline over the weekend. They were part of a larger group of 2,856 volunteers who covered about 15km of Singapore's coast.

Said first-time volunteer Shazwani Mustaffa, 16, of St Andrew's Junior College: 'It's very dirty. I don't know how all this ends up here. 'I found plastic, styrofoam, glass bottles and mattresses.'

The National Environment Agency's Environmental Health Department head of operations, Mr Tai Ji Choong, said flotsam which comes in with the tide is particularly bad during the south-west monsoon from May to October. 'We had our cleaners throw away a toilet bowl washed ashore,' he added.

On beaches across Singapore where the public has access, the NEA has about 40 cleaners removing rubbish before most beach-goers arrive. On the popular 11-km stretch of East Coast Park, about 15 of them sweep, pick up and toss out trash on any given day, starting from 7am.

The volunteers took over their job on Saturday and collected 16,819 items weighing 2,600kg at East Coast Park alone - the highest amount of trash collected on any beach open to the public.

In an indication that beach-goers were making a significant impact, cigarette butts made it to the list of top three items collected on all beaches open to the public.

Canadian Sandra Johnson, in her 30s, who takes weekend walks along East Coast Park, said: 'I find the most trash near barbecue pits, close to rubbish bins. 'Guests from overseas often comment on how clean Singapore is. If they saw the East Coast Park on a weekend morning, I don't think they'd feel the same way.'

Straits Times 20 Sep 07
Big pile of litter

ONLY those who visit the beaches at daybreak know its dirty secret. Singapore's sandy shores are covered in litter, while garbage bins nearby remain half-empty.

Cleaners took a break on Saturday for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore held annually on the third weekend of September.

This is the trash that never came close to the bins:
Styrofoam pieces - 27,460 (24.8%)
Bags - 14,470 (13.07%)
Cigarettes / cigarette filters - 11,613 (10.49%)
Food wrappers / containers - 11,504 (10.39%)
Straws, stirrers - 11,051 (9.98%)
Beverage bottles (plastic) 2 litres or less - 4,495 (4.06%)
Plastic sheeting / tarps - 4,431 (4.0%)
Caps, lids - 3,817 (3.45%)
Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons - 3,394 (3.07%)
Glass beverage bottles - 2,002 (1.81%)

* Data will be consolidated next month and available at http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg/results/2007/overall/

You CAN make a difference
your own shopping habits
Encourage others to do the same
ACT against litter that harms the environment
It's not just about picking up litter on the leafmonkey blog and wildsingapore
Learn more about Singapore's own Coastal Cleanup effort
Join our own ICCS efforts, subscribe to the mailing list to be updated on upcoming efforts

See also
Large increase in volunteers for Coastal Cleanup Day Lian He Zao Bao on News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore blog

Related articles on marine litter and pulau ubin
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