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    Monday, March 26, 2018

    Managing plastic waste: One bottle cap at a time

    By Dosunmu Ifeoluwa

    Plastic waste has become a global phenomenon, so it is imperative that we undertake a complete overhaul of wasteful plastic resources.

    By description, plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively cheap. These so-called benefits have led to human beings’ voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods. While using plastic holds no offence, the unfortunate development is that these plastics, after usage, are consigned arbitrarily and that remains a subject of concern.

    However, it is particularly surprising that over 200 million tons of plastic across the globe is wasted annually. This defies the logic of being economical. Uninterestingly, a large chunk of these plastics is dumped in oceans.

    According to Shaun Frankson, co-founder of an environmental organization, "almost half the planet lives in poverty. We have over 300 million tons of new plastic created every year, and of that, about 7 million tons ends up in the ocean.” This is sheer mismanagement.

    A young Dutch inventor, Boyan Slat, who noticed the problem while diving off the coast of Greece in 2011 said: “I came across more plastic bags than fish”. He went further on this rhetorical question: “And I then asked myself the question, ‘Well why don’t we clean this up?’’

    The problem of wasted plastic rages on but one ambitious foundation, which raised $31.5 million in donations in a matter of years, will attempt to clean up plastic trash in the North Pacific as early as 2018. It should be noted that plastic comes in forms of bottle caps, lighters, pen casings, and plastic bottles. As I pointed out earlier, most of them have ended up in the ocean, where their accumulated debris has formed giant bits-of-plastic gyres in every major ocean on Earth.

    This is unpleasant but not without solution. Recycling is one of the sovereign solutions which must be undertaken by the governments of every state. When plastics are recycled, it becomes useful as paper and paperboard, glass, steel, aluminium, textiles, rubber, bags and pouches, films, shells, trays, pots, bottles and a host of others. However, consumers must also be conscious if they really want to ensure that plastic wastes are reduced to the minimum. Choosing reusable water bottles over PETs will help reduce plastic waste.

    One cannot ignore the fact that proper plastic management will maximise material recovery and reduce waste management costs. With the numerous forms plastics could be turned into, employment creation will be on the rise while the economy will soar.

    That plastic problem is a global phenomenon is indisputable, thus concerted efforts are needed. While America generates nearly twice as much waste per day as China does, the latter tops the list of plastic polluters. The long silence should be suspended. Again, plastics are entirely another source of income which must be explored by responsible governments. It is my conviction that if these are reckoned with, the global issues of plastic waste would be reduced.

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