A wave of garbage washed up on the shores of Omoa, a northern beach town in Honduras, polluting the coastline of the Caribbean Sea. The “massive trash tsunami” was filled with plastic debris believed to have come from a neighboring river in Guatemala.
From combs, to toothbrushes, make-up containers, flip-flops, plastic fishing wire, plastic toys, soda bottles, syringes, IV bags, and plastic bags, the tide of trash was so dense you could walk on it, one local said.
While Omoa is know for its crystal clear beaches, a video shows the plastic pollution floating in the ocean and loads of it along the beach. An official from Honduras’ environmental ministry said the trash came from the Motagua River in Guatemala.
“We are committed to cleaning our beaches and keeping them clean, but today we are demanding that authorities in Tegucigalpa take strong actions, actions to find a permanent solution to this problem,” Lilian Rivera, an official from the country’s environment ministry, said.
The Motagua River is the largest river in Guatemala reaching “two-thirds of the way across the Central American isthmus, 300 miles from its source in the remote central highlands of Guatemala to its mouth on the Caribbean’s Mesoamerican Reef, the second-longest stretch of coral in the world,” BuzzFeed reported. In 2017 the country’s government installed “bio-fences,” which are superficial barriers made from large plastic bottles contained in netting, to try and stop the trash from reaching the mouth of the Motagua River. But with few recycling plants in Guatemala, mismanaged waste flows out of the country’s dumps each year and accounts for much of the plastic pollution in the ocean.
While victims of the plastic pollution are locals, it’s a global problem. According to scientists, “rivers are a major source of ocean plastic pollution: 90 percent of it comes from just 10 rivers,” EcoWatch reported.
“Big companies are putting out all these products that they know have no chance of being recycled,” Judith Enck, a former regional U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator and public policy professor at Bennington College, said. “And they are selling them in places with not a lot of access to landfills.”