Dr Ane Leslie Adogame, Executive Director, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development, SRADev Nigeria, a non-governmental organization, has described the increased use and indiscriminate dumping of plastic bottles as a ticking time bomb.
In a chat with Newsbreak, Anie warned that the issue could result in a major human catastrophe.
According to a research conducted in the United Kingdom in 2017, more than one million plastic bottles are consumed around the world every minute. The study also said the number will increase by 20 percent in 2021.
It further said more than 60 million plastic bottles end up at dump sites and incinerators every day globally.
Lagos State controls 60 percent of the commercial, industrial and manufacturing activities in Nigeria. An environmental survey conducted in the state’s waste sector in 2016, revealed that out of the 10,000 plus metric tonnes of waste generated per day, 12 percent consists of plastic materials in the form of soft drink plastic, water and other consumer goods.
Ane predicted that more millions of bottles will totally block drainage channels in many urban centres, saying the situation will lead to unprecedented flooding that will result in loss of human lives on a grand scale.
“With what we have now, the situation could lead to extinction of the humans in Lagos. Let’s start from the basic economic impact of plastic bottles, look at most urban cities in Lagos, imagine what millions of plastic blockage of drainages would cause. It will result to massive, serious flooding,” he said.
“If the urban cities are going to experience what happened in Kogi State and other states this year, it will lead to colossal loss of lives and many people will be swept away. Plastic pollution to me, is a time bomb that will even be much more dangerous than climate change in Lagos. Climate change can be mitigated because it is being massively supported now. But I can assure you that by the time impact of plastics stare us and hit us in the face, we won’t remember climate change here.”
The expert further lamented the impact of environmental pollution of plastic bottles in the waterways around the state. He said many studies have shown that aquatic animals ingest plastics, which have accumulated effect on them overtime.
Ane blamed the development on lifestyle and new wave of consumerism.
“Today you will agree with me that 80 percent of our commerce and business centres around engage in plastics packaging. Single use plastics are the most dangerous because they remain in same form for a long time and cannot be recycled”, he further stated.
Although he said the dangers plastic constitutes to environment is a nascent issue, he lamented that up till now, government in Nigeria have not been able to quantify the apparent danger the menace constitutes to the society.
“If you look at the impact of what is to come, in this part of the world, government have not been able to quantify the menace of plastic in the society in all its ramifications. They don’t seem to give a human face to it; they don’t seem to understand how dangerous it is”, he also said.
The expert called for a return to old, eco-friendly ways of packing used in the past.
“Though Nigeria has keyed into the menace of plastic pollution as soon as it was brought to limelight on a global platform. Presently, the federal ministry of environment is drafting a plastic management policy for the country.
“But the first place to begin is not with a policy process. Policy can go hand-in-hand with awareness. One major area that is lacking is, people are not aware, so plastic use continues without limitation. I think the first thing government should have done is to invest time and money into plastic awareness sensitization. People should conscientize first before they talk about policy. When people know, they will begin to reduce plastic on their own.
“Before The plastic revolution, we used to have ways we do packing those days. Things that were being packaged with cartons have now changed to plastics because they find it cheaper. Those days, people packaged with leaves and all our traditional ways of packaging. But today, everything is plastic; you can’t point to one thing that is not plastic.
He added: “The only solution to this is to reduce or stop it completely. The solution is not about recycling, especially for single use plastics. Ban it totally. Nobody should propose any solution called recycling, it won’t work!
“By now, we should be embracing what is called “Green Consumerism”. What we do now is “Brown Consumerism”. Eco-friendly materials are green consumerism and until we change our taste, consumption pattern, up to our packaging pattern, we are going to be in trouble.
“Naturally, we have a waste management problem with plastic bottles going into our waste channels. We don’t even manage waste, we only transfer waste. Real waste management is now what we call ‘circular economy’. So let no one say we do waste management.”