Plastics degrade our life

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Added 20th February 2019 11:51 AM

Uncontrolled use and insensitive way of disposing plastic is one of the major causes of environment degradation in the world today and in turn it degrades our life.

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Uncontrolled use and insensitive way of disposing plastic is one of the major causes of environment degradation in the world today and in turn it degrades our life.


By Fr. Lazar Arasu

Often we all remain hypocrites, when it come to the question of protection of environment.

We may passionately speak against pollution and environment degradation, but we continue to harm the nature through our irresponsible and thoughtless behaviour such as the indiscriminate use of plastics, reckless disposal of waste, and other lavish and unaffordable life-style that does not sustain the earth and its limited resources.

Uncontrolled use and insensitive way of disposing plastic is one of the major causes of environment degradation in the world today and in turn it degrades our life.

There are staggering statistics on plastic pollution in Uganda. It should make all of us worry. It is estimated that at least 600 tonnes of plastics are consumed every day in Uganda and most of them are disposed of in irresponsibly.

It is believed that more than half of them are used and disposed of in and around Kampala. At least 51% of plastic garbage in the city is left uncollected. Plastic waste is the major cause of clogging sewage systems in the city.

In the year 1972, on average a person used up to two kilogrammes of plastic, but today a person uses up to 43kg of plastic annually. Since the 1950s, at least 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced worldwide.

According to the United Nations, ingestion of plastic kills an estimated one million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year.

In the world’s beaches and shorelines 73% of waste are plastic materials. Plastics are artificially made of toxic chemicals and when they are badly disposed of groundwater and reservoirs are susceptible to leaking environmental toxins.

It is recorded that the use and throw plastic materials are ordinarily used only for three to five minutes; the best example could be water and soda bottles and several other packing materials.

It is reported that in the major oceans of the world there are islands of plastics materials floating. They are deposited by the major rivers of the world. The Great Pacific garbage patch is often described as the Pacific Trash Vortex. Similar patches are also found in Atlantic Ocean.

The estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometres, the size of small nations of the world.

Quality of fish from our lakes and rivers will become bad or even poisonous, thus causing enormous loss to our marine exports. It is a death threat to several communities those relay on fishing industry for financial standing and for regular diet.

In most countries, only 9% of plastic is recycled. It Uganda less than 5% of plastic is recycled. Plastic can take over 450 years to decompose completely.

They are left in our rural areas, gardens and wetlands uncollected causing serious threat to agriculture, water and soil pollution.

Plastic pollution is the major cause of water contamination in our lakes causing serious threat to marine life. A school of thought believes that plastic pollution kills more people than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. A study suggests that about 14% of children between the ages of eight and 14 living in Kampala have bronchial asthma.

When plastic is burned, they emit toxic chemicals causing respiratory problems. Uganda does not have any serious environment laws on burning plastics and the existing laws are never enforced.

After few decades, it will cost millions of dollars to clean up the polluted land, water and air, not forgetting the health problems they could have caused in those years. Excessive pollution will drastically affect the tourism industry, thus causing loss of millions of dollars to Uganda.

According to Ecowatch, between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually.

A British environment report mentions that about one million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, and this number is set to increase by another 20% by 2021 if laws are not made and enforced. The same report says that more than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were purchased in 2016 across the world — up from 300 billion a decade ago.

Many companies and investors are allowed to produce consumables packaged in use and throw bottles and containers in Uganda without any law governing them. There are several people who have begun to produce paper and cloth packing materials in Uganda today; but unfortunately they are not supported and empowered.

Beverage companies, both international and local largely do not have any policies on recycling of their bottles.

Yet on daily basis thousands and millions of bottles are sold in the market and disposed of irresponsibly. Individual users do through bottles without any feelings of remorse. Our roads are littered with plastic bottles questioning our sanity. As government and as individual citizens let us

Wake up and care for our environment, lest we regret sooner than later.

The writer is a priest and school administrator.



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