What you need to know:
- Effects of plastic on aquatic life are devastating and accelerating suffocation, ingestion, and other macro-particulate causes of death in fish, and mammals, the plastic and bio accumulates in greater and greater concentrations up the food chain with humans at the top.
Days after we celebrated the World Environmental Day under the theme “Solutions to plastic pollution”, Ugandans should question the actions taken to create a clean environment.
Negligence in the form of littering plastics irresponsibly creates a deep damage to the environment on account that the genesis of plastic pollution is poor disposal.
Let’s combine efforts to fight plastic pollution in Uganda since plastics are a nemesis to fisheries and Agriculture which are great sources of income to most Ugandans.
Plastics are primarily non-biodegradable. When left on land for a long time, the plastics are known to leach toxic chemicals into the soils, thereby contaminating water bodies and plants.
In addition, Plastics are made from oil with a highly polluting production process.
Plastics just do not dissolve, they break down into micro-particles that circulate in the environment, for instance a single water bottle can take up to 1000 years to break down.
Rapid population growth, urbanization and industrial growth have led to severe waste management problems in Uganda and around the globe.
The growth in the usage of plastics is the biggest contributor of environmental degradation today.
Plastic as a synthetic polymer substitute of natural materials has become an essential asset in packaging products.
A considerable intensification in the production of plastics in the last few decades has simultaneously increased consumption of plastic materials, of which these plastic packaging materials are converted into plastic waste in a short span.
High consumption of plastics due to affordability and durability has attracted a wide market globally.
Companies prefer plastics for packaging to cut costs of production which clearly indicates that we cannot fully do away with plastics and that’s why it should be part of our norms to foster proper disposal of plastics
Further, Statistics from National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) show that plastics take a lion’s share of waste in Uganda with over 600 tonnes being produced every day throughout the country.
Given that only 40 percent of this waste is collected and disposed of properly, the remaining 60 percent finds its way into the environment leading to a number of problems.
Plastics are resistant to decomposition, natural organisms have a very difficult time breaking down the synthetic chemical bonds in plastic, creating the tremendous problem of the material’s persistence to the quality of soil.
where it is destined to remain entombed in limbo for hundreds of thousands of years and toxic compounds are spewed throughout the atmosphere to be accumulated in biotic forms throughout the surrounding ecosystems hence causing land, air and water pollution.
Most drainage channels, rivers and lakes in Uganda continue to choke on plastic waste which has contributed to rampant flash floods occurring due to clogging of water ways and in the near future if we don’t act now there is likely to be more plastics in our lakes and rivers than fish which impedes disaster to the fisheries.
Effects of plastic on aquatic life are devastating and accelerating suffocation, ingestion, and other macro-particulate causes of death in fish, and mammals, the plastic and bio accumulates in greater and greater concentrations up the food chain with humans at the top.
Findings from a research conducted by the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute discovered microfilms (tiny plastics) of the plastics in the fish population in water bodies in Uganda. This is causing slow fish growth and deaths of marine animals.
Notably, UBOS estimates that about 70 percent of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture and in FY 2021/22, agriculture accounted for about 24.1 percent of GDP, and 33 percent of export earnings, whereas Fish is one of the high value commodities that contribute to economic growth in Uganda.
In consideration of the above enormous economic contribution of fisheries and agriculture they greatly need to be safeguarded from all forms of hindrances ranging from plastic pollution, drought among others. Let’s dispose of plastics responsibly to aid the flourishment of agriculture and fisheries. Plastics are threatening the productivity of our soils and aquatic life. Operationalise laws for poor plastic disposal.
I call upon government actors including, the office of the prime Minister, the National Bureau of Standards, the Uganda Revenue Authority and NEMA to enforce implementation of the provisions of the law on plastic pollution.
Babra Kembabazi,[email protected]