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Don calls for effective management to curb plastic pollution

A university don, Prof. Dele Olowokudejo, has called for the effective management of plastic waste, to stem the spate of plastic pollution in the country.

Plastic wastes on waterways
Plastic wastes on waterways pose a treat to small boats

Olowokudejo, a professor of Botany and Biodiversity at the University of Lagos, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday, June 21, 2018 in Lagos.

The academician stressed that effective management was vital in curbing plastic pollution in the country, rather than an outright ban on plastics.

“Stemming plastic pollution in Nigeria requires effective management. We cannot ban the use of plastics just with a stroke of the pen.

“We should rather convince everybody about the negative impact of plastics in our lives, then gradually, Nigerians will see the need of limiting themselves to single-use plastics.

“With these steps, we will gradually escape the cycle of plastic pollution we all now find ourselves, because plastics have invaded and colonised our environment,” he said.

Olowokudejo also called for the ban of certain household plastic items, to be replaced with their wooden substitutes, so as to avoid further degradation of the environment.

“To ban plastics completely will not be practicable in one go but we can embark on advocacy, sensitise the populace, and ban it gradually.

“We can begin with items like straws, cutlery, and plates made of plastics; they can be banned and replaced with wood or metal substitutes that will not degrade our environment.

“An action plan should be evolved as regards other waste elements like bottles, components from electronic appliances, and other items, whereby they are withdrawn from circulation.

“These elements should also go through a recovery plan where they are recycled and turned into other useful objects that would benefit the environment.

“That would be a more effective way of addressing the pervasive problem of plastic pollution in the country,” Olowokudejo told NAN.

The don also called for the enforcement of environmental laws by government regulators, to stem the growing rate of plastic pollution.

“We have environmental laws but these laws are not enforced. The regulations have weak implementation.

“It is possible to put laws in place but if they are not being enforced, it will just be a waste of the paper on which they are written.

“The manufacturers of plastics should, therefore, have a robust discussion with the regulators on how their activities can be better regulated under strict guidance by the government.

“Manufacturers of plastics should also categorize and tag plastics appropriately, so that they can be actively involved in their recovery and in the eventual cleanup of the littered environment.

“We need to urgently fashion out how we can manage and regulate plastics in our country,” he said.

Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic products in the environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, or humans.

Plastics that act as pollutants are categorized into micro-, meso-, or macro debris, based on size.

By Mercy Okhiade

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