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Opinions Tue, 22 Sep 2015

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Anti-plastic war begins

The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation has taken what can pass for the most pragmatic and positive action yet against non-biodegradable materials – otherwise known as plastics.

Until the directive from the ministry to companies producing plastics to include oxo biodegradable additives to the products to change their nature so they can degrade, there had been endless talks at public forums about the dangers posed by such stuff. These materials do not decompose but remain in the soil and create untold problems for the environment and marine life.

From plantain by the roadside to the most insignificant merchandise in the departmental stores, plastic bags of various sizes are used to carry the stuff bought. These are discarded within minutes when the purchasers reach their various abodes, leaving the plastics to add to the many already constituting an eyesore on the landscape.

A traditional ruler from Dagbon had cause to add his voice to the many already resonating across the country about the need for the government to do something about the dangers posed by such materials.

Most ruminants when they are slaughtered show large chunks of plastic wastes in their entrails, butchers will attest.

While some of these ruminants die long before they are mature to be slaughtered, others put up stunted growth – the result of plastic materials they have ingested but which cannot digest and therefore remain in their gullets.

Today discarded plastics constitute a greater percentage of wastes generated by households in the country. From rural to urban areas patches of black, white and transparent plastic materials can be seen claiming right of stay in the environment.

Until now paper bag was what we were used to. Returning to the days of paper bags as they were then referred to, is highly preferable but are we prepared for such a return?

Paper bags as biodegradable stuff did not take long before they succumbed to chemical action, decomposing and becoming soil.

Today the plastic revolution, it would seem, has taken over the environment killing everything that comes its way, from marine creatures to domestic animals and even plants.

Even fishermen are complaining about the plastics which fishes swallow; perhaps that too has impacted negatively on the volume of catch by fishermen.

Unfortunately, the reprehension against plastic wastes has been somewhat docile mostly confined to academics, leaving the ordinary man in the street, including the market woman who patronises these things, to wonder what the noise is all about. For them nothing is amiss.

The ministry’s directive when fully implemented, would go a long way in reversing the status quo. It is our take however that the ordinary person who patronises and others who have something to do with plastics should be educated about why they should be banned.

Without such education the struggle against plastics would pose an insurmountable one.

Columnist: Daily Guide

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