Recycling

Single-use plastic ban in Africa: Expectation vs. Reality

single-use plastic
credit: DW

Unmanaged waste and pollution are becoming severe issues across Africa. Approximately 500 shipping containers of waste are dumped in Africa every month, wreaking havoc on wildlife and communities.

Due to climate change, Africa is experiencing drought, floods, and other environmental hazards. As we all know, the environment can have a favorable or bad impact on human health, depending on how it appears and how well it is maintained.

Approximately eight million tons of plastic are poured into the world’s oceans each year. As this plastic degrades at a rapid rate, it enters the food chains of sea life, causing harm to them. Above ground, animals are not immune to the detrimental effects of sing-use plastic, and ingestion of these goods can be dangerous to these animals too.

The consequences of unprocessed waste, especially single-use plastic products are equally destructive to communities and the health of the people.

As a result of the increased usage of single-use plastics, waste is entering into the oceans at unprecedented rates and taking up large space in the environment and as these wastes continue to grow, the ecosystem suffers more and the harm is more severe.

Single-use plastics make up a major issue in many African countries, as they take up landfill space. Because single-use plastics are unable to be recycled, they wind up all over the place. Rivers and lakes, as well as street corners, drains, and waterways

Because plastic is apparent every day, African nations have long recognized the damage it poses. Millions of Africans rely on plastic bottles or sachets of drinking water given by local companies due to a lack of safe freshwater. Many African countries are said to have banned the use of single-use plastic, but are these claims true?

Kenya has announced legislation against single-use plastic for the fourth time, following regulations passed in 2005, 2007, and 2011. single-use plastic bags were banned in Tanzania in 2006 and again in 2013, yet they are still in use.

African governments are waging a tug-of-war between the environment and jobs created out of companies producing this single-use plastic. The anti-plastic legislation is facing stiff opposition from multibillion-dollar polyethylene businesses across the continent that still finds a way to produce and distribute them among users.

Other African countries are also grappling with how to execute the embargo. Both makers and users are clearly undermining these prohibitions. While some African countries are busy enacting prohibitions that aren’t being implemented properly or at all, the market for single-use plastic continues to grow, and the implications of this continue to grow.

After a failed 2010 bag ban, most Zimbabweans interviewed believed the rule was silly, that it was enacted without warning, and that it was an indication of the government shifting its waste management responsibility onto consumers.

One may argue that the primary perpetrators should be the manufacturers of single-use plastic, but it appears that the government has turned a blind eye to these corporations, and the perpetrators themselves are unconcerned about any prohibition.

Single-use plastics and containers are commonly tossed on the ground, forced out of vehicles, hipped around every corner, or blown away by the wind, littering the environment and polluting the immediate ecosystem. Nigeria has a never-ending accumulation of single-use plastic waste and it is posing a major environmental hazard to communities.

Last year, Lagos State, Nigeria, announced plans to eliminate single-use plastic in public spaces by January 2021. The year is almost over, and nothing has been accomplished.

Cameroon’s authorities recently seized tons of single-use plastics. Releasing that, in addition to a prohibition law, there must be equal implementation and efforts to ensure that production is reduced, if not completely eradicated.

To save the environment, the government should stop blaming consumers and instead focus on the manufacturers of these products and take steps to reduce their single-use plastic footprint.

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