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May Free Report: [Plastic Pollution in Africa: an urgent call to action]

by Obadare Adenekan | 01-09-2023 03:59 recommendations 0

 Plastic Pollution: a call to urgent action in Africa

Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. It affects the health and well-being of millions of people, animals and ecosystems around the world. Plastic pollution is especially severe in Africa, where rapid population growth, urbanization, industrialization and poor waste management practices have led to a surge of plastic waste in the continent's rivers, lakes, coastlines and oceans.

According to a study published in the journal Science, Africa is projected to be the second-largest contributor to global plastic waste by 2025, after Asia. The study estimates that Africa will generate 4.4 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste per year, of which 0.9 million tonnes will end up in the ocean. This poses a serious threat to the rich biodiversity and ecosystem services that Africa's aquatic habitats provide, such as food security, tourism, recreation and climate regulation.

Plastic pollution also has negative impacts on human health in Africa. Plastic waste can contaminate freshwater sources, such as rivers, lakes and groundwater, which are essential for drinking, irrigation and sanitation. Plastic waste can also harbor pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, that can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. Moreover, plastic waste can leach toxic chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, that can disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive disorders, cancers and neurological problems.

The plastic pollution crisis in Africa requires urgent action from all stakeholders, including governments, businesses, civil society and individuals. Some of the possible solutions include:

- Implementing bans and restrictions on single-use plastic products, such as bags, bottles, straws and cutlery, that are often used once and then discarded. These products account for a large proportion of plastic waste in Africa and can be easily replaced by reusable or biodegradable alternatives.
- Improving waste management systems and infrastructure in African countries, especially in urban areas where most of the plastic waste is generated. This includes increasing the collection, sorting, recycling and disposal of plastic waste, as well as providing incentives and awareness campaigns to encourage waste reduction and segregation at source¹.
- Promoting circular economy models that aim to minimize the use of virgin plastic materials and maximize the reuse and recycling of existing plastic products. This can reduce the environmental footprint of plastics production and consumption, as well as create new economic opportunities and jobs in the recycling sector.
- Supporting innovation and research on alternative materials and technologies that can reduce the reliance on plastics or mitigate their harmful effects. For example, some African entrepreneurs have developed bioplastics from natural sources such as cassava starch, algae and banana peels. Others have invented devices that can collect or degrade plastic waste in waterways or oceans.

Plastic pollution is not an inevitable consequence of development. It is a solvable problem that requires collective action and responsibility from all sectors of society. By taking bold and decisive steps to address this issue, Africa can protect its environment and people from the scourge of plastic pollution and pave the way for a more sustainable future.


Obadare Adenekan

  • Nigeria Former E-gen Ambassador Obadare Adenekan
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