By definition, plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastics in the environment in such a way that it adversely affects humans, wildlife and habitats.
According to World Economic Forum, the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish in 2050. Recently, PUNCH reported that if every Nigerian decides to store all the empty sachet water holders and empty plastic bottles they consume in a week and hands them over to a recycler, we will succeed in cleaning our gutters of about 10 billion waste plastic package and containers every week (1).
One way or another, plastic eventually get into our waterways, 83% of tap water have been found to contain plastic particles according to statistics by the African Development Bank (AfDB) (2); in addition, open burning of plastics as is often done in Nigeria causes air pollution that can contribute to respiratory problems, cancers etc. when inhaled by humans.
Plastic pollution also poses significant economic costs to Nigeria, not just the cost of cleaning up on land and in water bodies but also pollution negatively impacts tourism and the macro-economy.
In Nigeria, there have been efforts to reduce plastic pollution by the emergence of plastic recycling companies but the results have actually not been encouraging as a greater percentage of plastic used (especially in states where there are no off-takers) does not make it to the recycling plants.
Nigeria’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a policy designed to make manufacturers of consumer goods take full responsibility for their products’ lifecycle especially at the post-consumer stages; has not been fully translated into action. The Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) that were introduced by the Federal Government to comply with the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) policy are yet to fully take responsibility for the end-of-product-life phase.
The #IsThisYours campaign is a global civic action first started with a tweet (3) from Greenpeace and the campaign is focused on citizens taking action using social media as a tool to let the government know that the production and excessive use of plastic should be regulated because of the environmental pollution it causes. It is also meant to encourage the consumer goods companies to find innovative solutions to the end-of-life stage of their products to prevent marine litter and micro-plastics, to get more involved in recycling and cleaning-up existing plastic pollution. As can be seen from photos on the internet already with the #IsThisYours, some of these plastic are partially buried in the ground and when the rains come, they will be swept along and become a part of the major environmental problems we face. These industries have to become more responsible, they have to introduce schemes and innovation for more sustainable plastics. They also can invest in recycling and other programmes targeted at behavioural change.
With the acceptance of the #IsThisYours Campaign among the Nigerians and other global citizens, EnvironFocus Limited, a registered Nigerian Company and the Sole Nigerian Distributor of LifeStraw® has decided to ensure the campaign gets more traction by sponsoring a competition (TrashFree Nigeria) targeted at ensuring that the campaign achieves its goals.
Goal of the TrashFree Nigeria Competition
To ensure that consumer goods companies get more involved in solving the menace caused by plastic pollution.
How the TrashFree Nigeria competition will run
Nigerian youth from all over the nation will be encouraged to join the competition by taking a picture of plastic lying on the ground in Nigeria, publishing on social media (Twitter) and tagging the brand using #IsThisYours and #TrashFreeNigeria? The hashtag will be tracked and the names of everyone who posted pictures will be collected. At the end of each month, a winner will be picked at a raffle draw event which will be organized in Abuja, Nigeria with on-lookers and overseen by Adesuwa Obasuyi. The winner will be entitled to a LifeStraw® Go – an instant microbial water purifier in a sports bottle. More about the LifeStraw® Go here.
The competition will officially start on Friday March 15, 2019 and the first raffle draw will be on Saturday April 13, 2019. Subsequent dates will be announced as we progress.
The competition will run for six (6) months although it may be extended. It is expected that during this period, enough awareness would have been created in the minds of the citizenry on the impacts of plastic pollution and why it must be beaten at all cost.
It is expected that this competition will:
1. Make Nigerians all over the country aware of plastic pollution and become a part of the solution
2. Ensure that there is a behavioral change especially among the youth on littering and indiscriminate dumping of refuse
3. Ensure that the consumer goods companies take environmental responsibility more seriously and engage with the relevant stakeholders on targeted solutions which will be nationwide
4. Ensure the Federal Government via NESREA actively polices the EPR, there are several benefits attached to the policy that we need to begin to explore
5. Achieve environmental protection and reduce pollution