The issue heightened to an alarming state, the United Nation Environment Assembly passed a resolution titled “Addressing single-use plastics products pollution” which encourage private sectors and government to foster the use of more efficient design and better life cycle of plastic production, urging these entities to take comprehensive actions in regard the single-use of plastics. In Africa, the menace is disturbing, plastics are everywhere in the street which choked the drainage system during devastating floods, aside from this plastics have toxic pollutants when they burned destroys the environment which includes land, sea, and air. It takes hundreds of years for plastics to degrade or breakdown so the damage his extreme long lasting on the environment.
WASTE POLLUTION EVERYWHERE
Plastic is cheap and widely available, but the decomposing of the plastics after its use becomes a problem, this often leads to trash , plastic water bottles, plastics bags, boxes with plastics linings, for oceans life or commercial fishing, nets are made of plastics which has toxins substances, which leaks into the sea during fishing, these toxins substances are often present in the fish consumers take in putting them at a greater risk . Plastics affects all aspects of society. Aside, the toxin substances released into the sea, another factor of pollution in the sea is the throwing of plastics in the ocean, which have a terrible impact on marine species.
Marine species are dying and are been destroyed daily with the pollution of waste this, in the long run, affects the food supply chain for society. Either prices shoot high or there is a reduction of fish supply. On land, plastics become trash often heaped in the streets without any attention or plans of getting it destroyed, after all, there are no concise plans on how to deal with it, hence its resting place is in the streets. This breeds various respiratory and other diseases putting people at risks especially at the market and public places. It is such a huge menace even Governments are struggling to have a solution to it.
Air pollution is another issue created by plastics. In an attempt to destroy them. Burning becomes the only option which is quite alarming. When plastic is burned in the open air, it releases huge amounts of toxins, which pollutes the air. If these toxins are inhaled for some time, it can lead to respiratory issues.
Basically, Plastics hurts everyone in the long run, plants, animals, humans everyone suffers the damage. Governments and private institutions spend millions yearly to cleanup plastics trash, health wise, environmental wise.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO MENACE
In solving, this plastics menace, everyone’s effort is needed to bring it to an end. HOW?
Consumers can help by reducing the consumption of plastics by using reusable paper bags, drinking water from a disposable cup can be helpful too. Imagine the huge population using disposable cups instead of plastic bottles. The amount of impact it will create will be enormous, it might sound very difficult because almost everything is made of plastics, and however, we can begin from somewhere but avoid the use of plastics in the household. These small changes in our day-to-day life can add up and greatly reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment. The government can also do their part by banning the use of no biodegradable plastics, some countries have started this trend bringing in policies and laws to protect the environment from further destruction.
Photo : Primary school made of recycled plastic brick (in Cote d’Ivoire)
Rwanda in 2008, took a giant step in banning no biodegradable polyethylene bags. Their law forbids the import, production, use, and sale of no biodegradable bags which is punishable by huge fine and jail time. Tanzania followed suit, after Kenya where enforcement is been difficult for them, gradually more countries will take to this path. It is quite encouraging to see the influential bodies likes the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) picked up the menace and championed it with the campaign Beat Plastic Pollution campaign across Africa.
photo : Recycled plastic to build roads in Ghana
The UNEP is working hand in hand with governments and global companies including Nestlé, Coca-cola, Unilever, etc. who also manufacture plastics packages to establish programs and projects to solve plastic pollution. So far, the UNEP has gained massive support and commitments from these institutions. The menace although is huge, but it looks possible to solve, however, it is not just the problem of Governments or global firms but mainly citizens. The common person on the streets suffers the most when it comes to the effect or impact of waste pollution. The Government and its official can easily escape but the common person can’t, thus it is our duty as citizens to starting curbing the waste pollution, the use of paper bags and containers can be replaced with plastics use, industries can start producing one-time or single-use plastics or degradable plastic instead of non-degradable. Everyone is needed in this fight; it boils down to us, Africa.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Photo credit : google image/illustration