Wild Africa Fund on Monday launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness about the threat of plastic pollution and its impact on oceans and marine wildlife.
This is contained in a statement by Mr. Festus Iyorah, Nigeria’s Representative of the fund in Lagos.
According to Iyorah, World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated across the globe to reflect the impact of human activities on the environment while encouraging renewed public commitment to protecting the earth.
He said the 2023 WED theme, “Solutions to Plastic Pollution”, represented an urgent call for the world to reduce plastic waste while finding local solutions to the damages caused by plastic pollution to the environment and wildlife.
“Plastic pollution is a huge and widespread problem in Nigeria. Single-use plastic has now become part of our daily lives. Sadly, its constant use and accumulation as waste is damaging our environment, ocean and marine species, such as sea turtles,” Iyorah said.
Alluding to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) report, the world produces about 400 million tonnes of plastic per year.
The report said that of the total amount of plastics produced yearly, only less than 10 percent were recycled.
It said that Nigeria generated 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste yearly and 88 percent of these plastics were not recycled; as a result, “they end up in waterways, dams, lagoons, and the ocean.”
Iyorah said that plastic pollution particularly affected marine habitats and the aquatic species called the ocean home.
According to him, hundreds of sea turtles die annually from getting trapped in plastic waste in the oceans and beaches.
“Sometimes they eat plastic they mistake for sea grass and consuming just one plastic item can have fatal consequences for sea turtles.
” In Nigeria, sea turtles are particularly at high risk of becoming extinct without further human intervention,” Iyorah said.
Mr Peter Knights, OBE, Founder, Wild Africa Fund said: “Countries, such as Rwanda have done tremendous job reducing plastic usage and virtually eliminating visible plastic pollution greatly enhancing their environment and image.
” It takes political will and public participation, but Nigeria could be a regional leader in reducing plastic usage and moving from indiscriminate dumping to recycling or safe disposal.”
The country representative said that Wild Africa Fund was producing media messages to help the public understood the impact of plastic waste on sea turtles and marine habitats.
He added that the fund had been profiling local conservationists saving sea turtles and working with local nonprofits and government agencies to rescue marine life being sold on the streets of Lagos.
He said that the fund was also committed to working with the Federal Government of Nigeria and state governments to protect the environment from plastic pollution and deploy local solutions to protect our oceans and marine life from plastic waste.