Guatemala has a particular problem with plastic pollution and eastern neighbor Honduras has blamed the Central American country for for creating an “environmental disaster”. This follows images released which reveal a blanket of plastic rubbish engulfing the sea around a Caribbean island; waste which Honduras says emanates from Republic of Guatemala. The telling image was released by underwater photographer Caroline Power. The image shows large masses made up of plastic bottles, cutlery and polystyrene plates can be seen floating on the water.
The video below shows plastic waste running through Aldea Estancia de la Virgen Chimaltenango, Guatemala:
Colum Muccio, Administrative Director of the Association for the Rescue and Conservation of Wildlife (ARCAS) Guatemala has traced the spread of plastic dumped in some of Guatemala’s great rivers, such as the Xequijel River and River Seco, to the ocean: “where the Motagua River unloads thousands of tons of plastic, which come from as far away as Quiché and Alta Verapaz, onto the beaches of Punta de Manabique, and the Guatemalan keys, and the south of Belize. This plastic trash… stays at the surface of the beach’s sand, remaining buried up to half a meter deep.”
Muccio is particular concerned about the impact on land, oceans and to wildlife, especially turtles. According to the United Nations, plastic debris ingested by turtles can cause intestinal blockage resulting in malnutrition, reduced growth rates and even death.
Action is now being taken by officials, with Guatemala now pledging to increase waste collection in its rivers through deploying artisanal bio-fences to trap and collect plastic waste. Guatemala’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Alfonso Alonzo has recently stated that Guatemala is “actively fighting plastic pollution through innovation and community participation”.
The new fence nets catch the plastic waste, making it easier for communities to recycle or dispose of it properly. The project will begin with two bio-fences located in the Motagua river. As well as the fences, other measures are required, such as improving on wastewater treatment facilities; reducing individual consumption of plastics; and improved education about the need for recycling and upcycling.