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International Activists Link Plastic Pollution to PA

Break Free From Plastic representatives Jed Alegado, Lakshmi Narayan and Myrna Dominguez are visiting U.S. communities affected by gas and oil production. (Debra Smit/Breathe Project)
Break Free From Plastic representatives Jed Alegado, Lakshmi Narayan and Myrna Dominguez are visiting U.S. communities affected by gas and oil production. (Debra Smit/Breathe Project)
May 24, 2018

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Plastics have serious negative impacts throughout the supply chain – that's the message brought to Pittsburgh this week by activists from India and the Philippines.

The representatives of Break Free From Plastic, a global movement seeking solutions to what they call the plastic pollution crisis, visited concerned residents of Beaver and Allegheny counties on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jed Alegado, from Manila is a communications officer for Break Free From Plastics. He says they came to the Pittsburgh area to make the connection between the plastic trash that is polluting fisheries, and the petrochemical industry that profits from plastics.

"We like to show solidarity between these groups fighting plastic pollution, with groups who have been waging a battle against these oil and gas pipeline corporations who are actually the root cause of plastic production,” says Alegado.

Reports estimate that more than 40 percent of all plastic is used as packaging that is discarded after a single use, much of it ending up in the world's oceans.

Alegado points out that fishermen interviewed in Manila last year reported that plastic trash in the water has become so pervasive it is clogging their nets.

"More than half of what they're catching now are actually plastic instead of fish and seafood which they can eat and they can sell,” says Alegado. “So, these are greatly impacting their livelihood."

He adds that plastic manufacturers pass the burden of disposing their products on to consumers and those left to deal with the accumulated trash.

Alegado says the Break Free From Plastics activists also are visiting locations in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia that are confronting the hazards of harmful emissions from petrochemical extraction and processing.

"We are talking to communities waging battles against oil and gas companies which are polluting their air and their surroundings,” says Alegado.

A report from the Center for International Environmental Law says 99 percent of plastics are produced from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA