The Global Issue Of Marine Litter And What We Can Do About It

Published: 28 September 2021


Joining the National Environmental Agency’s Say YES to Waste Less (SYTWL) campaign this year, Resorts World Sentosa is all geared up to encourage guests to reduce the consumption of single-use disposables. From an upcoming Eco-Bazaar to a Bring-Your-Own-Container initiative at Malaysia Food Street, here’s a special feature on the adverse effects of using disposables - think plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic food containers.


A significant problem that arises from the use of single-use plastics is the increase of marine debris - litter that ends up in oceans, seas or other large bodies of water. How do they end up in the waters? Well, there are multiple ways.


  1. Improper waste management

    If discarded improperly, disposables could find their way into drainage, canals and other water bodies, and eventually be discharged into marine environments. That is why littering is so frowned upon everywhere, especially in Singapore. Binning our trash is one easy way to keep them from entering the waters.


    Proper waste management systems and infrastructures, such as designated landfills and incineration plants are also crucial to ensure waste doesn't end up in the waters. Singapore has invested greatly in our very own waste management systems, such as four waste-to-energy incineration plants and an offshore landfill, to ensure that.


    The waste management of the industrial sector plays an important role too. The discharge of industrial waste could have detrimental effects to the marine environment. Hence, adequate filtration systems and proper treatment of waste materials need to be in place prior to discharge of waste to prevent potential toxic substances in untreated effluent from affecting the health of aquatic life and the entire ecosystems.


  2. Cargo overboard

    Ever wondered how your overseas purchases are shipped to you? Some are transported by cargo ships and it is not always smooth sailing…


    Some cargo containers may dislodge and fall off shipping vessels due to capsizing, storms or sea surges. When this happens, the containers may open and disperse its contents into the water which could end up floating on the surface and end up at other coastal areas around the world. They might even sink to the bottom of the ocean, with the non-biodegradable items remaining there for decades.


  3. Abandoned fishing gear

The fish you eat don’t appear in front of you miraculously. They are captured with fishing gears that are usually non-biodegradable. From large purse seine nets to thin, long fishing lines, these discarded gears may result in ghost fishing - where aquatic organisms get hooked, trapped or entangled even though there are no humans around to fish them out, hence leading to dire consequences, even death through strangulation or starvation.


Detriments of marine debris

Have you heard of the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch? It is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, where floating rubbish carried by the ocean currents accumulate. The non-biodegradable floating plastics may break down into smaller pieces into microplastics, and get ingested by aquatic organisms and consequently accumulate in humans when we consume seafood.


Save the Ocean

Thus, it is of great importance and urgency that humans take action to reduce or prevent litter from ending up in the oceans. Help reduce marine debris and save marine life to the best that you can with these simple steps.


  • Practice responsible rubbish disposal
  • Volunteer for coastal clean-up drives
  • Adopt an eco-conscious lifestyle
    • 3 Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle!
  • Advocate a culture of responsible living - let more people be aware of the issue with marine debris