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Plastic pollution raises fresh ecological concern

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Plastic pollution raises fresh ecological concern

With tons of plastics littering the Nigerian environment, including seashores and seabed, experts have raised the alarm over looming pollution. Dayo Ayeyemi reports

 

If the dangerous effects of plastic waste on the environment are anything to go by, no stone must be left unturned to check the menace threatening human survival across Nigeria.

From the inner streets to major highways of cities in Nigeria, indiscriminate dumping of plastic objects is becoming rampant.

This dangerous waste, which ranges from bottles to electronic, pure waste sachets and polythene bags often used and discarded anyhow by residents and businesses, is raising fresh fear of environmental pollution among stakeholders.

Apart from blocking drainage channels, many of these plastics, which are non-bio-degradable, end up on land and water bodies, thereby endangering human lives and the ecosystem.

Cities’ dumpsites across Nigeria are not spared as plastic wastes litter the environment, with little or no effort to manage them appropriately.

Worried by its dangerous effects during the 2018 World Environment Day (WED), stakeholders comprising the government, civil society organisations (CSOs) and relevant agencies in the environment sector, called for an aggressive campaign against plastic pollution in Nigeria.

Themed: “Beat Plastic Pollution,’’ the stakeholders raised the alarm over the dangerous effects of plastic waste on the environment.

 

Govt’s concerns

Speaking with New Telegraph in his office last weekend, the Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), Mr. Adebola Shabi, an engineer, described plastic waste as “poisonous to the environment and public water, ” stating that it would take between 300 and 500 years for plastic to degrade in the environment.

He noted that Lagos, with its huge population, consumed a lot of items in plastics, which end up in canals, drains, dumpsites and lagoon, disrupting water transportation, clogging movement of water and leading to flooding of the environment; affecting living organism negatively and clogging boats.

He said: “Electronic–waste (e-waste) such as computer components, after their lifespan, scavengers would pick them up with the mind of recycling, but unfortunately end up in facilities producing children’s food and end up contaminating their food.

“We find some polythene papers in cow. Plastic waste is dangerous to humans and animals.”

 

 

Also expressing his concern, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, requested foreign consumer good giants operating in the country to maintain their global recycling policy in the country to eliminate indiscriminate disposal of plastics.

 

Osinbajo said the world must check plastic pollution to secure the environment, stressing that the Federal Government was also collaborating with state government to establish plastic waste recycling plants under the community-based waste management programme in the ministry.

 

Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, said the Federal Government was working on a national policy on plastic waste management to regulate use and disposal of plastic waste in the country.

 

The minister said that the Federal Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with critical stakeholders, had developed a national strategy for the phase out of plastics, which are non-bio gradable.

 

Two plants have been completed in Ilorin, Kwara State, one in Lokoja, Kogi State, while work on another is ongoing in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

In addition, two privately run programmes are Bola Jari (means waste to wealth) in Gombe State and Leda Jari (means converting nylon bags to wealth) in Kano State. These initiatives are encouraged and supported by government.”

 

The minister solicited the support of the media to educate Nigerians on the effects of plastic pollution and the need to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.

 

Lagos state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, also advised residents to find alternatives and aggressively seek ways to eradicate the menace caused by the products and make the environment more livable for all and for future generation
He called for their support to reduce the effect of plastic pollution in the environment.

 

Shabi hinted that government was planning to ban plastics in the metropolis, adding that the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) was carrying out research to come up with alternative material.

 

Besides, the special adviser said that government had begun campaign to sensitise people to sort their waste from home so that plastic would end up in recycling plants.

 

He hinted that in order to safeguard the city against major environmental pollution, the Lagos State government had unveiled plans to establish plastic waste collection centres in all the 57 local government areas of the state.

 

He added that incentives had been put in place to encourage youths to bring plastic to the centres and get something in return.

 

 

Experts’ view

 

Commenting on the development, the National Coordinator, Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Mrs Ibironke Olubamise, said that existing plans to tackle plastic pollution would be successful if aggressive awareness creation campaigns were executed.

 

According to her, the fact remains that the use of plastics has brought much ease to daily lives and living but ignorantly with much untold health consequences.

 

“Only if people are aware of the danger of plastic to humans and the environment, will there be any willingness to do something about it,” she said.

 

She said that GEF-SGP, which is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria, focused its attention on the campaign, while supporting pollution-related projects with over $150,000 to address pollution.

 

Also, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, described plastic pollution menace as a ‘haunting reminder of the harm that mankind is doing to the environment.’

 

He stated that reports by Ocean Conservancy have suggested that there would be more plastics than fish in the oceans by 2050.

 

“Already, plastics have been found in over 60 per cent of all seabirds and in all sea turtles species that mistake plastic for food. For our survival and for the survival of other species, we need fish, not plastics.”

 

Programme Manager, Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) Africa, Bunmi Obanawu, canvassed good price on plastic materials to discourage Nigerians from using them.

 

“When we are made to pay for plastics, we learn to make less use of them.

 

“Plastic is everywhere. It is in our homes, offices, parks, cars and natural environment. More than 70 per cent of the plastic used today is used only once and discarded. Plastic materials take over 100 years to fully decompose, but are used on a daily basis. With all the plastic in circulation, it forces us to ask ‘where is our plastic going?’” she said.

 

Co-founder of Wecyclers, a recycling company, Wale Adebiyi, expressed the need to imbibe culture of recycling and how his company used incentive-based strategy to encourage people to recycle.

 

 

Effects

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion, and plastic waste causes financial damage of $13 billion to marine.

 

According to experts at plasticpollutioncoalition.zendesk.com, disposed plastic materials could remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer. Consequently, they pointed out that plastic affected human health, noting that toxic chemicals that leached out of plastic have been found in the blood and tissue of nearly all humans.

 

“Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments,” they said.

 

Besides, the experts stated that plastic would spoil the groundwater as toxic chemicals from plastics drained out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

 

“There are long-term risks of contamination of soils and groundwater by some additives and breakdown by-products in plastics, which can become persistent organic pollutants,” they noted.

 

Besides, they explained that plastic always attracts other pollutants that affect fish and wildlife

 

“Over 260 species, including invertebrates, turtles, fish, seabirds and mammals, have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output, lacerations, ulcers and death,” they said.

 

 

Last line

 

Government and non governmental organisations (NGOs) must push forward aggressive campaigns to sensitise the public on the devastating effects of plastics on the environment.

 

 

 

If the dangerous effects of plastic waste on the environment are anything to go by, no stone must be left unturned to check the menace threatening human survival across Nigeria.

 

From the inner streets to major highways of cities in Nigeria, indiscriminate dumping of plastic objects is becoming rampant.

 

This dangerous waste, which ranges from bottles to electronic, pure waste sachets and polythene bags often used and discarded anyhow by residents and businesses, is raising fresh fear of environmental pollution among stakeholders.

 

Apart from blocking drainage channels, many of these plastics, which are non-bio-degradable, end up on land and water bodies, thereby endangering human lives and the ecosystem.

 

Cities’ dumpsites across Nigeria are not spared as plastic wastes litter the environment, with little or no effort to manage them appropriately.

 

Worried by its dangerous effects during the 2018 World Environment Day (WED), stakeholders comprising the government, civil society organisations (CSOs) and relevant agencies in the environment sector, called for an aggressive campaign against plastic pollution in Nigeria.

 

Themed: “Beat Plastic Pollution,’’ the stakeholders raised the alarm over the dangerous effects of plastic waste on the environment.

 

Govt’s concerns

 

Speaking with New Telegraph in his office last weekend, the Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), Mr. Adebola Shabi, an engineer, described plastic waste as “poisonous to the environment and public water, ” stating that it would take between 300 and 500 years for plastic to degrade in the environment.

 

He noted that Lagos, with its huge population, consumed a lot of items in plastics, which end up in canals, drains, dumpsites and lagoon, disrupting water transportation, clogging movement of water and leading to flooding of the environment; affecting living organism negatively and clogging boats.

 

He said: “Electronic–waste (e-waste) such as computer components, after their lifespan, scavengers would pick them up with the mind of recycling, but unfortunately end up in facilities producing children’s food and end up contaminating their food.

 

“We find some polythene papers in cow. Plastic waste is dangerous to humans and animals.”

 

Also expressing his concern, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, requested foreign consumer good giants operating in the country to maintain their global recycling policy in the country to eliminate indiscriminate disposal of plastics.

 

Osinbajo said the world must check plastic pollution to secure the environment, stressing that the Federal Government was also collaborating with state government to establish plastic waste recycling plants under the community-based waste management programme in the ministry.

 

Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, said the Federal Government was working on a national policy on plastic waste management to regulate use and disposal of plastic waste in the country.

 

The minister said that the Federal Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with critical stakeholders, had developed a national strategy for the phase out of plastics, which are non-bio gradable.

 

Two plants have been completed in Ilorin, Kwara State, one in Lokoja, Kogi State, while work on another is ongoing in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

 

In addition, two privately run programmes are Bola Jari (means waste to wealth) in Gombe State and Leda Jari (means converting nylon bags to wealth) in Kano State. These initiatives are encouraged and supported by government.”

 

The minister solicited the support of the media to educate Nigerians on the effects of plastic pollution and the need to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.

 

 

Lagos state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, also advised residents to find alternatives and aggressively seek ways to eradicate the menace caused by the products and make the environment more livable for all and for future generation
He called for their support to reduce the effect of plastic pollution in the environment.

 

Shabi hinted that government was planning to ban plastics in the metropolis, adding that the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) was carrying out research to come up with alternative material.

 

Besides, the special adviser said that government had begun campaign to sensitise people to sort their waste from home so that plastic would end up in recycling plants.

 

He hinted that in order to safeguard the city against major environmental pollution, the Lagos State government had unveiled plans to establish plastic waste collection centres in all the 57 local government areas of the state.

 

He added that incentives had been put in place to encourage youths to bring plastic to the centres and get something in return.

 

Experts’ view

 

Commenting on the development, the National Coordinator, Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Mrs Ibironke Olubamise, said that existing plans to tackle plastic pollution would be successful if aggressive awareness creation campaigns were executed.

According to her, the fact remains that the use of plastics has brought much ease to daily lives and living but ignorantly with much untold health consequences.

 

“Only if people are aware of the danger of plastic to humans and the environment, will there be any willingness to do something about it,” she said.

 

She said that GEF-SGP, which is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria, focused its attention on the campaign, while supporting pollution-related projects with over $150,000 to address pollution.

 

Also, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, described plastic pollution menace as a ‘haunting reminder of the harm that mankind is doing to the environment.’

 

He stated that reports by Ocean Conservancy have suggested that there would be more plastics than fish in the oceans by 2050.

 

“Already, plastics have been found in over 60 per cent of all seabirds and in all sea turtles species that mistake plastic for food. For our survival and for the survival of other species, we need fish, not plastics.”

 

Programme Manager, Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) Africa, Bunmi Obanawu, canvassed good price on plastic materials to discourage Nigerians from using them.

 

“When we are made to pay for plastics, we learn to make less use of them.

 

 

“Plastic is everywhere. It is in our homes, offices, parks, cars and natural environment. More than 70 per cent of the plastic used today is used only once and discarded. Plastic materials take over 100 years to fully decompose, but are used on a daily basis. With all the plastic in circulation, it forces us to ask ‘where is our plastic going?’” she said.

 

Co-founder of Wecyclers, a recycling company, Wale Adebiyi, expressed the need to imbibe culture of recycling and how his company used incentive-based strategy to encourage people to recycle.

 

 

Effects

 

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion, and plastic waste causes financial damage of $13 billion to marine.

 

According to experts at plasticpollutioncoalition.zendesk.com, disposed plastic materials could remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer. Consequently, they pointed out that plastic affected human health, noting that toxic chemicals that leached out of plastic have been found in the blood and tissue of nearly all humans.

 

“Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments,” they said.

 

Besides, the experts stated that plastic would spoil the groundwater as toxic chemicals from plastics drained out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

 

“There are long-term risks of contamination of soils and groundwater by some additives and breakdown by-products in plastics, which can become persistent organic pollutants,” they noted.

 

Besides, they explained that plastic always attracts other pollutants that affect fish and wildlife

 

“Over 260 species, including invertebrates, turtles, fish, seabirds and mammals, have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output, lacerations, ulcers and death,” they said.

 

 

Last line

Government and non governmental organisations (NGOs) must push forward aggressive campaigns to sensitise the public on the devastating effects of plastics on the environment.

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