Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Campaign on the Imminent Ban of Non-Biodegradable Plastics Kick-starts in NWR

By Fai Cassian Ndi
Tansi Laban Bambo: NWR Delegate of Environment
Ahead of the April dateline by government banning the use of non-biodegradable plastics in Cameroon, the North West Regional Delegation of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development has launched a sensitization campaign aimed at informing and educating the population on the negative impacts of plastic bags. Speaking at the official launching in Bamenda, Tansi Laban Bambo, North West Regional Delegate of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development said that the effects of plastic bags on the environment are devastating. According to Tansi Laban its burning emits toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and increase the level of dioxins and carbon dioxide in the air resulting in ozone layer depletion. The consequences are that its lead to global warming and climate change. He said that some of the plastic bags buried in the soil would take approximately 400 years to decompose completely. Taking the North West Region as a case, Tansi Laban observed that plastic lithering is very unattractive and they block gutters and drainage facilities causing floods. He said thousands of pigs, pigs and other small ruminants have died prematurely because they ate plastic bags. He however told participants at the launching ceremony that the plastic bags banned fall within those plastics measuring less than or equal to 60 microns. In his presentation he recommended that alternative biodegradable like waste newspapers, raphia baskets, jut bags, banana/plantain leaves cement papers and cartons  are readily available and could be used so as to eradicate the pending doom. Tansi Laban Bambo concluded that the fight against the use of non-biodegradable plastics is a collective one given that the effects are local, regional and global.
Here below is a paper presented by Mr. Tansi Laban of the Management of Non-Biodegradable Plastic in the North West Region of Cameroon
Introduction: Urbanization and population increase have led to the generation of tons of waste in urban areas resulting in difficulties in management. Waste in general represents a huge threat to the environment. This threat is not related to the sheer volume of then ending up in the landfill but also to the resource needed to produce, transport and occasionally recycle them and the emissions resulting from the processes. Although they represent a small percentage of the total waste generated in urban areas in Cameroon, plastic posses a serious threat to the management of municipal waste in the North West Region-NWR.
The management of waste in the NWR has been left in the hands of the municipal councils and they are facing a lot of problems managing this waste due to the incorporation of non-biodegradable plastics as most of the waste from homes(house refuse) is not sorted before disposal. Some uncivilized inhabitants of the towns and cities evn dump it into gutters and streams resulting in the blockage of these gutters and pollution of the streams and eventually the sea and oceans. The fish and other sea animals if they could speak will testify as to the amount of plastics they receive each day.
Facts on Plastic Bags:
·         Plastic bags constitute 10% of the 6,000,000 tons of municipal waste generated in Cameroon annually;
·         Thousands of marine animals and more than 1 million birds die each year as a result of plastic pollution
·         The United Nations Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of the ocean
·         Plastic bags are often mistakenly ingested by animals, clogging their intestines which results in the death by starvation. Other animals or birds become entangled in the plastic bags and drown or can’t fly as a results
·         Even when they photo-degrade in landfills, plastics from single house-use bags never goes away, and toxic particles can enter the food chain when they are ingested by unsuspecting animals
·         Greenpeace says at least 267 marine species are known to have suffered
Uses of Plastics
ü  Plastics are very convenient, clean, light and easy to handle
ü  Plastics have helped to improve on the hygiene and sanitation of both cooked and raw food stuff sold on our streets and markets
ü  Plastics ease the transportation of goods from one location to another
ü  Plastics protect goods from rain during the rainy season on market days as testified by buyam-sellam and traders
ü  Plastics ease packaging of goods by retailers/petty traders such as meat sellers, rice sellers, garri sellers and beans sellers
ü  Packaging of cooked fufu-corn in parties and outdoor picnics
ü  The famous “should in case” used for leftovers in parties and other ceremonies
Effects of Plastics bags on the Environment
The effects f plastic bags on the environment are really devastating. The biggest problem with plastics is that once they have been soiled/ used, they end up in trash can, which then ends up in the landfill or is burnt. Either solution is very detrimental for the environment. Burning emits toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and increase the level of dioxins and carbon dioxide in the air resulting in ozone layer depletion and consequently global warming and climate change. Those that end up in the landfill site are held there indefinitely as part of the plastic waste problem because some need up to 400 years to decompose completely.
Despite the enormous services plastics offers as cited above, they have far reaching effects on the environment and ecosystem in the NWR. They have been known to cause the following problems and illnesses:-
Ø  Plastic lithering is very unattractive and the aesthetic beauty of the landscape
Ø  Plastics block gutters and drainage facilities resulting in flooding in cities and towns when it rains
Ø  Plastics when burnt in open air, results in the production of organic persistent pollutants and greenhouse gases which causes acid rain, destruction of the ozone layer resulting in global warming and climate change
Ø  Death in pigs and goats when eaten by these animals because of the smell of good food that is usually packaged using these plastics
Ø  Plastics have a very negative effect on the biodiversity of the marine ecosystems causing death of the sea mammals who mistake these plastics for food
Ø  Medics tell us that they cause cancer in humans
Ø  Inhibit or slow down the growth of plants when their roots get in contact with buried plastics
Ø  They are non-biodegradable and as such pollute the soil making unfit for cultivation of crops and trees
Ø  Production of dioxins and carbon dioxide when burnt in open air
Ø  Easily carried away by wind and as such are seen everywhere in the cities
Ø  It has been estimated that one bag has the potential of unintentionally kill one animal per every three months due to unintentional digestion or inhalation. If you consider the number of littered plastic bags depending on the location, this equals a lot of ecosystem sustaining lives lost.
Types of Plastic Bags Banned
Ø  Black
Ø  Black and white
Ø  Yellow and black
Ø  White
Ø  Blue and white
Alternatives Recommended
There are alternatives to plastic bags are available and the search for more alternatives will continue. They following are readily available:-
  • Raphia baskets
  • Newspapers
  • Cimencam paper bags
  • Cartons
  • Jute bags
  • Plantain and banana leaves
  • Biodegradable plastics
Actions Taken by MINEPDED on Waste Management
  • Elaboration of a national strategy on the management of waste in Cameroon in 2007
  • The holding of the General Forum on the Environment in 2012 and the national workshop to define a national policy on non-biodegradable plastic resulting in the ban of plastics measuring less than or equal to 60 microns by joint arête by the Ministers of Environment, and Commerce of 24/10/2012 regulating the manufacture, importation and commercialization of non-biodegradable packaging (plastics).
  • Sensitization of women in markets and students in school environment clubs
  • Organization of concertation meetings with economic operators in Douala in August 2013
  • Signing of an agreement between HYSACAM and SABC in Douala and Yaounde on the Project “PLASTIC RECUP”
  • The issuance of Environmental Permits to some 16 enterprises to manage waste
Way Forward for the Management of Plastic Wastes in the NWR:-
ü  Incineration of plastic wastes
ü  Stringent implementation of the polluter pay principle by levying an environmental tax on all non-biodegradable wastes
ü  Using plastic waste as a raw material for other ventures such as block making, jewelry and hand bags as is the case of Paradise on Earth and individuals here in the NWR
ü  Sensitization of the population to sort their waste before disposal in the garbage heaps to ease management
ü  Recycling of plastic waste by companies producing them upon reception of used plastics with a token paid to the supplier of these used plastics (environmental clubs and NGOs can help in this direction)
ü  Reusable plastic bags which are stronger and can be used for three to five times
ü  Say to when you are given these plastic bags by retailers and educate then on their damage to our environment
ü  We had lived in the past without plastics, so we can still do the sam now to save our environment
ü  Progressively all plastics should be banned in Cameroon
Conclusion
Personal action is needed to succeed in the fight against pollution by plastics bags. Sort your wste at home before disposal. This will ease management of household waste. Say no when you are given a plastic bag to put a bonbon, a chewing gum or a magi cube in your neigbourhood store and educate them on the dangers of plastics both to the physical environment and human health. It is a collective fight for the effects are local, regional and global. 

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

3 comments:

nzekwoh mirabeau said...

The harm caused by the non-biodegradable plastics are enormous in our country already and its only a good think we sit up and kick it out. It actually a fight which is first of all individual before being collective. May we all therefore join the fight to purify our environment. by NZEKWOH Mirabeau

nzekwoh mirabeau said...

The harm caused by the non-biodegradable plastics are enormous in our country already and its only a good think we sit up and kick it out. It actually a fight which is first of all individual before being collective. May we all therefore join the fight to purify our environment. by NZEKWOH Mirabeau

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