They look little but mean a lot to our daily lives yet we hardly pay attention to them. The danger posed by plastics to us is enormous and continues to attract the attention of environmentalists. We have discussed this issue before and are constrained to return to it because there is no change in the manner in which we manage the plastics challenge.
There is no belabouring the point that because they are non-biodegradable stuff, these products remain in the ground for unquantifiable number of years resisting any chemical change but yet unleashing negative effects on the environment in varied ways.
The challenges posed by plastics and other non-biodegradable materials are hardly talked about outside academic and policymaking circles; yet in both the short and long runs, man is the loser from the continued use of these stuff without considering a solution to the hazards they unleash on the environment. It was heart-warming and relieving reading about the momentous decision taken by the Ministry of Science, Environment and Innovation to address the challenge.
Our joy is also occasioned by the fact that the subject has not been forgotten. We have returned to it because of its importance to our livelihood and the November 1 deadline for the banning of plastic products which do not conform to the prescribed standards from entering the country.
Now the ministry responsible for managing such issues is showing its teeth in the face of a danger which we have taken for granted.
Many ruminants have died as a result of ingesting plastic products and others are experiencing stunted growth because of the large quantity of such materials in their stomachs.
It would appear that the cheapness of these products also accounts for the rapidity by which they have spread across the country. There is no part of the country which has not been touched by the menace of plastics, their menacing effects unnoticed by the rural folks.
Fishermen have not stopped complaining about how the plastic products affect their catch. Some of the plastic stuff we generate end up in the sea and are swallowed by marine creatures.
How to enforce the inclusion of oxo-biodegradable additives in the production of plastic products is a task which the ministry must gird its loins to achieve. Otherwise all will come to nothing if producers seek alternative means of breaching the directive. If the inclusion of the additives increases the production costs, manufacturers will cut corners and beat the system.
As we once pointed out, education of the general public about the dangers posed by plastics produced without the inclusion of oxo-biodegradable additives will go a long way in assisting in the realisation of the objective of the policy change.
The ports, the entry points of the raw materials for the production of such products, should be particularly policed from November 1 onwards.
Source: editorial/daily guide
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