Stakeholders warn, proffer solution to plastic pollution

By Abigael Joshua.
Stakeholders at the 2023 World Environment Day in Abuja on Monday, warned against plastic pollution, which posed grave risks to human health and contributed to climate change.

They also advocated significant reduction in plastic pollution  with consolidating efforts that would ultimately lead to its elimination in terrestrial and aquatic environments.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme for the celebration is ‘Solutions to Plastic Pollution’ under the United Nations global campaign tagged #BeatPlasticPollution.

#BeatPlasticPollution is aimed at significantly reducing and ultimately eliminating plastic pollution, both in terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Speaking, Mr Adesola Olusade, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Abuja warned against plastic pollution within the FCT and environs.

Olusade, who was represented by Mr Udoh Atang, Director, Office of the Permanent Secretary, said that burning plastic waste released toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, reducing quality of life and affecting air quality.

He added that burning plastic posed grave risks to human health and contributes to climate change.

“Plastic pollution alters habitats, disrupts ecosystems and severely harms bio-diversity.

“According to the United Nations, about 400 metric tonnes of plastic wastes are generated every year and it is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in oceans than fish.

“This alarming projection brings to sharp relief the need to develop sustainable solutions to plastic waste management either by minimisation or re-use by developing an economy around plastic waste,” he said.

Olusade stated that in Nigeria, many cities were faced with the problem of plastic littering and plastic wastes filling up drain systems and clogging waterways leading to flooding and associated health risks.

“In the FCT, we have continually encouraged waste segregation at source and we have ongoing pilot projects in Life Camp, Gwarinpa, Wuse 2 and other parts of the Federal Capital City.

“The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) Blue Bin Programme is designed to ensure proper waste disposal and waste sorting at source.

“This campaign encourages each and every one of us to take action in reducing the use of plastics and ensuring proper disposal,” he said.

He said that the unique properties of plastics, durability, resistance to attack by chemicals like petrol, diesel and not amenable to degradation makes them ideal for various applications in daily life.

“The plastic epidemic is more worrisome when we consider that 50 per cent of plastic bottles and bags are single-use products, that is they are used just once and thrown away.

“By taking steps towards reducing plastic production, usage and ensuring proper disposal of used plastics we can collectively make a big impact in protecting our planet and its natural resources and secure the environment for future generation,” Olusade assured.

Earlier in an opening remark, Mr Osi Braimah Director AEPB, said that plastic pollution was a problem to the world.

“The issue we are having is how do we dispose plastics? People are working on plastics that can biodegrade in the environment.”

He said the theme of the World Environment Day was chosen by the republic of Cote D’Ivoire to protect the world from pollution.

The Chairman AEPB Board of Management, Dr Yahaya Bawuro, warned also against the dangers of plastic pollution, adding that it is a global challenge.

Bawuro expressed satisfaction with the theme of the celebration, saying it would go along way to address plastic pollution.

The Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire, Mr Kalilou Traore, who was represented by Mr Agni Fabrice, First Secretary of Cote D’Ivoire, said that plastic polluted ecosystem.

He said that Cote D’Ivoire had carried out several fights in the area of plastic pollution.

“This year’s theme is indeed a theme that concerns us all.”

He said the country had banned the use of plastic bags since 2014 supporting the switch to reusable packaging.

“More people should be involved in the fight against plastic pollution, especially governments, companies and civil societies should join forces,” Traore said.

Ms Vanessa Phala, Director International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the ECOWAS
said that the world was being inundated by plastic.

Phala, who was represented by Mr Stephen Agugua, a representative from ILO said that ILO is strategically positioned to support and partner with organisations to make the world a better place.

“More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year, half of which is designed to be used only once.

“Plastic pollution has significant impact on the environment, society, and human health.

“Hence, a careful and concerted effort is needed to ensure that this trend is stopped,” she said.

Phala said that this annual event aimed to bring together millions of people from across the globe to engage them in the effort to protect and restore the environment.

“We remain optimistic that our partnerships across the globe have
contributed to strengthening organisational capacity and expand
opportunities for decent job creation,” she assured.

Ms Dupe Olusola, the Managing Director Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, said that their aim was to give back to the community through plastic reuse.

Olusola, who was represented by Mr Ifeanyi Nnadi, Assistant Public Relations Manager, said that the hotel would try to reduce plastic usage.

“And when we do, we are very deliberate from separating the different types of waste.

“We have been able to send some students to school we call them the eco scholars children.

“When you take care of your environment your environment takes care of you,” Olusola said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlights of the events were dances by dance troops, drama and symbolic tree planting to commensurate the World Environment Day.

NAN further reports that three Secondary Schools in Abuja were given environmental award winners to carry on with environmental matters in the Federal Capital Territory.

The Secondary Schools are Army Day Secondary School Maitama, Government Secondary Science School Tungan Maje and the Government Secondary School Lugbe.(NAN)