It is now common place to find plastic bottles, on the streets, floating in bodies of standing water, water sources as well as trash cans in many cities and towns across Africa. In the past, it never used to be this rampant to find such bottles as many communities had resorted to the use of traditional vessels like cups made out of the bamboo plant. But today it is typical to find plastic bottles from the very small ones to the very big ones littered everywhere across the continent, from the cities right down to the interior of villages, where one could never think of finding such plastic material. The presence of these plastic bottles is creating an environmental crisis, which if not controlled and handled appropriately, will put many at the risk of pollution in the near future. Actually, the effects of these plastic bottles are already being felt, not only in Africa, but across the globe. Farmlands as well as water sources have been invaded by these plastic bottles, which makes it difficult to cultivate and have a proper water supply respectively. These plastic bottles do not only pose an environmental threat, but equally create health problems.
This environmental ill that has been blamed on foreign and local companies, governments as well as individuals is gradually finding its own place in the ecosystem. The indiscriminate disposal of plastic bottles is what is threatening the environment and causing pollution everywhere. Because individuals are not disciplined in their handling of plastic waste, there is the presence of plastic bottles littered around. The fact that governments are also lax in imposing laws prohibiting the indiscriminate disposal of these plastic wastes poses a serious threat to the environment. Recycling of plastic bottles is another great solution that can curb the presence of plastic bottles on the streets and water sources. On the occasion of the celebration of World Environment Day 2018 on June 5, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his message said the world must unite to “beat plastic pollution. According to him, the world is swamped by harmful plastic waste and every year, more than eight million tones of plastic waste end up in the oceans.
Africa seems to be making gains in the current global movement for getting rid of plastics. Several countries are now taking steps to eliminate the production and distribution of single-use plastics, some adopting a total ban on the production and use of plastic bags. Countries like Cameroon, Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania have set the pace, while others, like Botswana and Ethiopia, are following suit. In South Africa for example, citizens have been mobilized through campaigns such as Bring Your Own Bag, which encourages people to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. Many retail outlets and restaurants in the country have taken a stance to stop distributing single-use plastic bags. Furthermore, UN Environment and its partners are working closely with these African governments to establish policies and create programmes that are geared towards a plastic-free continent. The campaign Beat Plastic Pollution, which was also the theme for World Environment Day 2018, has mobilized the continent to come together and clean up plastics in land and water ecosystems. The campaign also encourages governments to adopt the initiative and come up with regulations to curb plastic pollution.
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