People pick up litter at Blue Lagoon yesterday. Tons of litter were washed up along the river after a weekend storm.     Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)
People pick up litter at Blue Lagoon yesterday. Tons of litter were washed up along the river after a weekend storm. Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

Call to curb pollution in Umgeni River

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Mar 14, 2019

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DURBAN - Clean-up operations are continuing along the Blue Lagoon as tons of litter washed up in the area after recent heavy rains.

When The Mercury visited the area yesterday, teams could still be seen picking up trash which lined the shore.

Residents, who took to social media, expressed their disgust at the piles of glass bottles, plastic packets and other litter that washed up.

Ricky Naidoo posted photographs of some of the litter.

“What do you see? Plastic bottles. I am not in disagreement with the banning of plastic straws, but surely we need to prioritise. Why has there been no action against the plastic bottles? Yet there is a direct replacement for this product with glass,” he posted on his Facebook page.

He said money made from the plastic levy should be used for recycling.

Dale Johnson, of Clean Blue Lagoon, said the washing up tons of litter was a continuing problem.

“It is bad at the moment, but it is not like this is a new problem. We have been operating the group for a while.

“People often tell us that by cleaning up, we are merely putting a Band-Aid on the bigger problem,” he said.

Johnson said the litter washed into the lagoon from the Umgeni River.

He said there needed to be better measures put into effect further up the river to curb the pollution.

“We need intervention from the city’s authorities. We need better refuse collection and better education about recycling,” he said.

Johnson said a group of volunteers had arranged an event to clean up the lagoon on Saturday.

Executive director of Plastics SA, Anton Hanekom, said it was distressing to see the amount of plastic washed up on the beaches.

“Banning plastics is a simplistic response to a complex problem. We need a rational solution to the crisis.

“It is tempting to imagine a world without plastic as some sort of environmental utopia, but when used in consumer goods, plastic uses four times less energy than alternative materials such as metal, paper and glass.

“In fact, alternatives to plastic packaging would nearly double greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Hanekom said plastic - if disposed of correctly - was one of the most environmentally-friendly products.

“And this is where the solution to plastic pollution can be found - in the correct disposal and management of plastic waste.

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the the city’s Cleansing and Solid Waste Unit would hold a specialised clean-up campaign today to clear the debris and rubbish that had washed up due to the heavy rains.

“DSW (Durban Solid Waste) as well as various stakeholders have already begun with the collection of recyclables,” he said. 


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