Lagos – Two ecologists have called on the Federal Government to ban the use of plastic products in the country because of its harmful effects on the environment.
They made the call in separate interviews in Lagos on Tuesday.
Mr Temitope Ogunweide, an ecologist and co-founder of Clean Edge Limited, noted that the use of plastics had become part of the everyday life of Nigerians but underscored the need to consider the negative impact of plastic materials on the environment.
“In Nigeria, we see a lot of activities carried out with the use of plastic bags.
“When people go to shopping malls where they purchase groceries or other household items, their purchases are packed inside plastic bags because of its convenience.
“This trend has become part of us but the convenience of using plastic bags comes at a very high cost on the environment and it negatively affects human health,” he said.
Ogunweide underscored the negative impact of plastics on marine life, saying that most of the plastic bags ended up in oceans as they could not decay.
He said that at present, approximately 46,000 to one million plastic fragments were floating in every square mile of oceans across the world.
Ogunweide said that the huge amount of the plastics in oceans had been having negative side-effects on marine life such as turtles and fish.
“We must also consider the effect which plastic products have on our health; plastic bags contain some pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), together with PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which are hormone disrupting.
“It can lead to cancer or some other serious health challenges in humans,” he said.
Ogunweide urged Nigeria to emulate China by outlawing the use of plastic as well as adopting its plastics prohibition strategy so as to save the environment.
He said that although many Nigerians were advocating plastic recycling, the recycling option could not be very effective in Nigeria because many recycling plants did not have the capacity to recycle plastics.
Besides, an environmental consultant, Mrs Candida Nworah, called for the gradual ban of plastics in the country in spite of its negative effects.
“Ban on plastics is actually very necessary but it is not something done in one fell swoop; the ban must follow a process and it must not be done in a hurry,’’ she said.
The process of banning plastic goes beyond a one-year timeline and it may take some years to complete the process.
“Plastic is dangerous because it is non-biodegradable; some plastics manufactured centuries ago are still in existence and we keep producing more.
“A recent research says by 2050, we will have more plastics than fish in the ocean,” she said.
Nworah also called for the sensitisation of Nigerians to the health implications of plastics, adding, however, that an alternative to plastic products should be provided before their prohibition.
“We need to educate people at the grassroots, and also those at the top echelon of society, on the non-biodegradable nature of plastics and also create an alternative before the ban.
“After you sensitise people to the dangers of plastics, you also need to create viable and feasible alternatives. These alternatives have to be established before the ban on plastics is initiated,” she said. (NAN)