Only 2 percent of Peru’s trash recycled, much burned or dumped into sea

Only 2 percent of trash in Peru is recycled, while 61 percent ends up in open dumps, 12 percent is burned and 3 percent is thrown into rivers, lakes and the ocean, according to the non-governmental organization Citizens of the Day, or CAD.

According to CAD’s recently published report, 83 percent of Peru’s cities, towns and villages has a trash-collection system, while 17 percent have no such service and trash simply accumulates along streets and in rivers.

In Peru, residents of the country’s coastal capital city, Lima, are increasingly at risk of eating fish that have ingested plastic filaments or particles floating in the Andean nation’s coastal waters because of garbage being dumped into rivers, streams and the ocean itself.

The ocean around Lima is polluted, and beaches are increasingly becoming unfit for swimming. In the Callao’s Carpayo Beach, for example, the tide brings in loads of trash from the huge city of Lima, where approximately 8 million Peruvians live.

Under the influence of sunlight, wave action and mechanical abrasion plastics – which are non biodegradable – break down slowly into ever smaller particles. “A single one liter (drinking bottle) can break down into enough small fragments to put one on every mile of beach in the entire world,” reports Greenpeace.

It has been estimated that more than a million sea-birds and one hundred thousand marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year by ingestion of plastics or entanglement, which also act as a sort of “chemical sponge,” by concentrating many of the most damaging contaminants found in the world’s oceans. Fish who eat these plastic filaments, as well as the humans who consume them, also take in highly toxic pollutants.

According to Greenpeace, approximately 100 million tons of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the ocean. And, if approximately 20 percent is generated by ships and ocean platforms, the rest is thrown into the ocean from land.

The burning of trash in a barrel, pile or outdoor boiler releases toxic smoke into the air, polluting the air, crops, lakes and streams.

According to a study carried out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health, burning about 10 pounds a day of trash in a household burn barrel may produce as much air pollution as a modern, well-controlled incinerator burning 400,000 pounds a day of trash.

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