Over the weekend, Anambra State Government and its partners rounded up the mock edition of the five million plastic challenge, with the collation of picked plastic bottles across 5 major locations.
The program initiated by the Guinness World Records in conjunction with NGOs such as African Clean-Up initiative, NEWMAP, NESREA, Red Cross, Humanity Nigeria as well as Faith-based organizations intervening in the environmental sanitation, is aimed at protecting the environment by removing 5 million plastic bottles off the roads, canals, drainages and waterways across Nigeria within 5 days.
The mock attempt which spanned through Sept 22nd to Sept 26th, witnessed collation of the picked bottles at various locations spread across the state including Awka, Onitsha, Ihiala, Nnewi and Umunze
It attempts to establish the possible tonnage that can be collected eventually when the main challenge comes up in November 24th to 29th 2020.
Speaking at the collation centre for the exercise in Awka, the Managing Director of the State Waste Management Agency (ASWAMA), Amaechi Akorah, said the exercise was envisioned to help address the hazards associated with littering of plastic and other non-decomposables on the environment, adding that the bottles collected will be taken up by industries and recycled for use.
“The world was very happy when the plastic initiative came but the hazards associated with its usage and the disposal no sooner than the initiative came, started poking the society in the face. These are non-decomposables and when they are indiscriminately dumped, they block waterways, causing damage on the roads, erosion, flooding among other challenges. They eventually end up in the rivers and they damage aquatic life. When you burn them, they release cancer-causing toxins into the air and cause severe health challenges for the people. Now, you can imagine if we are able to remove 500,000 or 1,000,000 plastics, the positive effect it will have on life while our drainages will be free to flow. Again removing them makes the environment cleaner and more habitable,” Akorah said.
He said the exercise was also targeted to yield the products for industries that will recycle and use them for other purposes.
“The whole plastics gathered will be taken off by the recyclers who will put them back to use, not in this form any longer but in other forms for textile, fashion and many others,” he said.
A Lecturer with Mass Communication Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Convener, Youths Earnestly Seek Soludo (YESS), Dr Nelson Omenugha whose group joined on the initiative, said they are passionate about a more prosperous Anambra where all the inhabitants will live harmoniously and in prosperity, but to achieve this, there is need for a sustainable environment.
In his words; “A healthy environment is a wealthy environment. So, we are going to the basics, which is to protect the environment. That is why we are joining other relevant organizations to take away these materials that will take hundreds of years and still not decompose. If we don’t do this, in the next two, three, four years, the whole drainage will be littered with these unsuitable materials and that will spell very huge damage for our environment.”
For Ify Aronu-Okafor, the Senior Special Assistant to Anambra State Governor on Broadcasting, the initiative has become imperative to address the people’s negative attitude towards waste management and disposal.
According to her, “The fact that we still have endemic flooding in parts of the state is because our people have a very negative attitude towards waste management and disposal. Modernity requires that we sort our wastes so that we won’t be unknowingly degrading our environment. This is a clarion call that all must answer to secure our lives and our environment. We can’t say that we are not affected because with the way we are going, the environment in future will be uninhabitable.”
Chidi Ezeribe, the Chairman, Zec Industries, one of the recycling companies partnering on the project, observed that waste recycling is a multi-million naira business that Nigerian government and the people have not explored for wealth creation and employment generation.
He stressed the need for government to support private investors in the business to assist in achieving the actual waste management vision instead of the present waste collection and disposal that is being done.