By Asmau Ahmad
As the world continues to battle the threat of plastic pollution, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) says it is ready to provide practical solutions to plastic menace through simple and adaptable eco-friendly strategies.
Mr Oladapo Soneye, Communication Manager, NCF, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Lagos ahead of the World Environment Day (WED) celebration.
According to Soneye, WED is the biggest international day for the environment led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and held annually since 1973 on June 5.
He added that the WED has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach.
According to him, the theme for the 2023 WED is: “Solutions to Plastic Pollution.”
He said that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the theme called for concerted efforts from individuals and governments across the world to end plastic pollution.
Soneye said that around the world, one million plastic bottles were purchased every minute while up to five trillion plastic bags were used worldwide every year.
“In total, half of the plastic produced is designed for single use purposes (used just once and thrown away),” Soneye said.
He said that the foremost conservation NGO, NCF, joins the rest of the world to mark the 2023 WED through days of activities lined up to educate people and propose practical solutions to plastic pollution.
He listed some of the major proposed activities to include School Recycling Initiative; Beach/Community Clean-up activities and up-cycling.
“These would be done with the aim of protecting our environment by limiting the volume of plastics going into our landfills and promoting environmental education among young Nigerians.
“At the initial stage, some schools will be adopted in Lagos State for the school recycling initiative.
“Schools are stakeholders in championing environmental sustainability in their community; they help inspire passion in children and can help reinforce the message of conservation to children.
“Hands-on activity such as recycling helps drastically reduce the volume of plastics in their community while also building environmentally concerned generation,” Soneye said.
He said that there would be provision of giant sorting bins for plastic collection generated both in the school and neighbourhood.
He said that regular pick-up of recyclables will be done and equivalent amount from the pick-up donated to the schools for purchase of school supplies.
The communication manager said that school recycling would inspire students to care about the planet.
“Students who participate in the recycling activity knowing fully well the benefits and opportunities recycling provide will carry on this habit as adults.
“Schools will be motivated as the activity will provide little incentive for school supplies.
“On the other hand, up-cycling is the process of transforming waste materials into useful items.
“The adopted schools will be visited and taught how to transform plastic wastes into useful items.
“This is a form of empowerment programme for the school children, teachers and volunteers as the items can provide a source of income when sold,” Soneye said.
He noted that the Beach/ Community Clean-up as an activity was a relatively easy and fun way to help tackle plastic pollution; serving as awareness tool about plastic pollution.
“The more people attend the clean-up, the more environmentally conscious they become, knowing fully well that their plastic waste, if not disposed properly, ends up in water bodies and causing harm to aquatic wildlife,” Soneye said.
Alluding to a UNEP report, Soneye said “Nigeria is estimated to generate about 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually.
It said that in Lagos State, plastic accounts for 15 per cent of the total waste generated.
The report said that the situation was likely to worsen as Nigeria’s population grows, from more than 220 million people now to an expected over 400 million by the end of 2050, and the production/need for plastic is also growing.
“Plastic wastes such as PET bottles, plastic bags, disposable plates and spoons, straws etc. are found around us, blocking drainage systems, causing flooding during the rainy seasons, and providing good breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“Plastic debris finds their way from the land into the ocean through activities like urban and storm-water runoff, littering, improper waste management and disposal, industrial activities, construction, and illegal dumping.
“Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and death,” the report said.
Dr Joseph Onoja, Director-General, NCF said: “There must be a systemic change to stop the flow of plastic waste ending up in our environment.
“Out of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 per cent has been recycled.
“Plastic waste, whether in a river, the ocean or on land can persist in the environment for centuries.
“Most plastic items are not degradable as they rather break down into smaller particles called microplastics which recent studies have found in human lungs, livers, and kidneys,” he said.