File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

#NewsByte: How Africa is leading the fight against plastic pollution

By Lance Witten Time of article published Jul 4, 2019

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We all know that plastic pollution is a major problem. How major?

Well, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature a third of all plastic waste will end up as pollution, and, if we don’t do something about it fast, this could lead to about 104 million metric tons of plastic waste leaking into nature in 2030.

That’s a lot of plastic waste - we’re talking something like 20 million 800 thousand elephants’ worth of plastic waste. Just leaking into nature. Obviously, this has a massive impact on food security, wildlife conservation, river and ocean health… you get the picture. It’s bad.

In fact, some scientists have predicted that by 2050, we could have more plastics, by weight, in the ocean, than we have fish in the sea.

This is the state of the world right now, but one continent is leading the charge against plastic pollution - Africa.

How is Africa fighting plastic pollution? Through effective legislation and innovative practices, of course. That’s just how we Africans like to roll.

Let’s take a look at what Nigeria’s doing, for example.

Earlier in June, Nigeria’s vice president, Professor Yesi Osinbajo, announced eight new plastic recycling plants had been opened, with 18 more in the pipeline at various stages of completion. 

That’s not all. A school in Nigeria is allowing parents and children to pay for their school fees in recycled plastic bottles.

How’s that for innovative? The Recycle Pay project has been rolled out in Lagos, Nigeria, by the organisations African Clean Up Initiative and WeCyclers.

Some parents find it a huge financial strain to pay for school fees, so this project doesn’t only benefit the environment, it’s helping children stay in school.

That’s not all... Earlier in 2019, Nigeria’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban plastic bags outright. Should the bill become law, it would make it illegal to manufacture plastic bags for the purposes of buying and selling.

Contravention of the bill would carry a penalty of 500 thousand naira - or 1 400 dollars - or a three year jail term, or both. That’s three years in jail… for carrying a plastic bag.

Kenya banned plastic bags back in 2017. Get caught with a plastic bag in Kenya and you’re liable for a four year prison sentence or a fine of 40 thousand dollars!
Uganda has managed to crack down on single-use plastic bags in its schools.

Rwanda banned plastic bags more than a decade ago. If you’re coming into the country via Kigali, your luggage will be searched and your plastic bags taken away.

Get caught with single-use plastic bags in Rwanda - that’s a 60 thousand dollar fine, thank you very much. 

The ban has been effective, with Rwandans following a culture of obedience. Since the ban, the country has seen a reduction in animal deaths, soil erosion, flooding and malaria. 

In June 2019, Tanzania’s single-use plastic ban came into effect. South Africa, Eritrea and Mauritania all have some ban or level of control in place to mitigate the prevalence of single-use plastics.

As the tide against global plastic pollution turns, it’s Africa that’s leading the charge and riding the crest of the wave. 

That’s it for now. Be sure to like, share and subscribe; you can also reach out to us on any of our social media channels.

This is NewsByte on ANAplus; we make Africa matter.

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