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World Oceans Day: Environmentalists seek end to plastic pollution

On World Oceans Day, stakeholders have called for an end to indiscriminate dumping of plastics into the nation’s water bodies.

The experts made called for deliberate policies and actions to protect the nations water bodies in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Describing disposable face masks as the next plastic problem, Mr Sylvester Arogundade, Earth and Environment Initiative, noted that if not disposed of for recycling correctly, they may end up in the environment, freshwater systems and the oceans.

He noted that if not curtailed effectively, these plastics could release harmful chemical and biological substances indirectly to plants, animals and humans, adding that the disposable face masks are made from polypropylene could take no fewer than 450 years to decompose.

“We are calling for standardisation, guidelines and strict implementation of waste management laws for face masks.

“We also call for Nigeria to replace disposable masks with reusable face masks like cotton masks, we should begin to consider the development of biodegradable disposal masks,” he said.

Dr Ibrahim Choji, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), called on the Federal Government to go beyond rhetoric and  set in motion the process of banning single-use plastic in Nigeria.

According to him, while plastic has many valuable uses, Nigeria has become over-reliant on single-use or disposable plastic with severe environmental consequences.

“CSDevNet recognises that beating plastic pollution is a huge challenge especially when we consider the perverse culture of current disposable economy.

“Dumping plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use is projected to result in our oceans holding more litter than fish by 2050, while an estimated 99 percent of all seabirds will have ingested plastic.

“We need fish, not plastics, the Federal Government has a major role to play in beating plastic pollution and particularly addressing the current scourge of plastic waste on urban and rural landscapes across Nigeria.”

He said several African countries; including Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Mauritania, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda Rwanda, Tanzania, Morocco, South Africa, have enacted laws related to the ban on the use, manufacture and importation of single-use plastic bags.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) at least eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean’s every year.

World Oceans Day reminds every one of the major role the oceans have in everyday life.

They are the lungs of our Planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.

NAN

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