Plastic Pollution: FG Project more Plastics than Fishes in Oceans

Kenny Folarin, Abuja

The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar has projected that there would be more plastics than fishes in our ocean as about eight million tonnes of plastic toxic waste are deposited in the oceans annually.

Dr. Abubakar while speaking in Abuja on Thursday at the Presentation and Unveiling of the study on Available Sustainable Alternative Materials to Plastics and Innovative Packaging and Recycling Technologies that Meet Market Needs in Africa to Reduce Plastics Leakages to the Environment noted that Plastic Pollution has become one of the gravest environmental problems confronting global community with impacts transcending national, regional and international boundaries.

According to Abubakar, Nigeria with a population of about 200 million people generates about 1.5 million tonnes of plastic wastes annually of which less than 10% is recycled.

Abubakar however identified inadequate waste management infrastructure, poor behavioral attitude, unskilled waste collection workforce, indiscriminate dumping and burning of plastics among others as problems of plastic pollution in the country.

Meanwhile, Abubakar explained that the study on available sustainable alternative materials on plastics is in tandem with government action to address the challenges of Plastics Wastes in the country in a holistic and sustainable manner, particularly in the quest for alternatives to drive investment in the right direction and support sustainable development objectives to which Nigeria subscribes.

He further added that to reduce plastic pollution in Nigeria the Ministry of Environment has developed National Policies on Solid Waste Management and Plastic Waste Management, Ensure a national plastic waste recycling programme and develop waste to wealth entrepreneurship programme for the empowerment of the most vulnerable group especially youth and women.

Others include, putting in place a community based management programme that encourages the involvement of local communities in modern waste management practices and the Establishment and Implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility Programme (EPR).

UNIDO Regional Representative, represented by Dr. Otu Osu stated that Plastics has become a global topic and Nigeria is not left behind despite its rich industrial importance but plastic waste has become a problem with its physically and non physical evident.

Speaking further, Mr. Osu disclosed that according to World Health Organization (WHO)  plastic waste account for 12% of the principal amount of total solid waste generated globally in 2016.

“Out of 242 million tones of plastic waste generated globally, only 9% is recycled and 14% is collected for recycling”.

Reaffirming UNIDO’s commitment to supporting Nigeria reduce plastic pollution, Osu said “UNIDO is presently supporting Nigeria in UNIDO programs which has environment as one of the 9 key component.

“UNIDO is working closely with Federal Ministry of Environment to implement the assessment piloted in Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory.

He added that Great Lessons has been learnt from this study which will open up lots of opportunities on legal frameworks technology, administration and financially, it will also promote a secular economy for plastics to Nigeria and economy.

“I reaffirm UNIDOs commitment to supporting Nigerian government and people towards promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development without compromising the quality of the environment”.

Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Mr. Matsunaga Kazuyoshi on his part noted that with Japan’s proximity with Africa through the ocean, if plastic pollution is left unchecked, the menace of marine plastic litter could harbor resounding negative impact on Japan.

Kazuyoshi stressed that plastic pollution should be a concern to all stakeholders as it affect global diversity, food security and health issues.

“It is conforming that the attention of the global community and policy maker is gradually being drawn to this danger”.

He however reassures Japan’s commitment to support developing countries to mitigate the impact of plastic pollution.

“Japan has pledged to support developing countries at mitigating the menace of plastic waste by adopting sustainable waste management system”.

“We hope that this project will bring great value to the global effort and source for a sustainable alternative to plastic”.

“We hope that it will ultimately lead to the reduction of plastic waste”. He added.

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