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Zambia Rues Rise in Plastic Pollution

Zambia on Monday joined the rest of the world in commemorating this year’s World Environment Day with the government expressing concern over the ever-increasing plastic pollution which was posing a threat to the environment.

“The government notes with concern that the high increasing levels of environmental degradation and the problem of plastic pollution in particular presents serious development issues that are negatively affecting the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development,” said Collins Nzovu, minister of Green Economy and Environment, during a commemorative event.

The global theme for this year’s commemoration is “Beat Plastic Pollution” but Zambia has localized it under the theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution for a Clean, Green and Health Zambia.”

The minister said the theme was a reminder that people’s actions to address plastic pollution were important and he called for a shift to a circular economy in order to reduce the volume of plastics.

According to Nzovu, plastic pollution has emerged to be a daunting environmental concern for Zambia. He noted that the plastic pollution crisis stems mainly from the fact that plastic was currently produced, used and discarded, adding that tackling plastic pollution requires an approach that addresses all stages of the plastic cycle.

The government, he said, has since put in place policies and legislation aimed at addressing the various environmental challenges including plastic pollution. The measures taken include the ongoing amendments to the national policy on the environment and environmental management law in order to make them respond effectively to new and emerging environmental issues.

The government, he added, was also implementing the extended producer responsibility regulations which limit the production of single-use plastic carrier bags of less than 30 microns and thin flat bags.

He disclosed that the ministry has commenced the process of developing a green growth strategy aimed at transitioning to circular approaches and sustainable production and consumption.

UNAIDS Country Director in Zambia Tharcisse Barihuta said there was a need for all stakeholders to break the addiction to plastics, champion zero waste and build a circular economy. He said the consequences of plastic pollution were catastrophic as more than 400 million tonnes of plastics are produced worldwide each year while every day the equivalent of more than 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastics was dumped in oceans, rivers and lakes.

He said the decision by the international community last year to start negotiating a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution was a promising first step.

Nachilala Nkombo, country director for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Zambia, said the theme for this year has come at a critical time when Zambia was ‘chocking’ with plastics.

She said there was a need for partners to upscale efforts to tackle plastic pollution, and for plastic waste producers and generators to actively take responsibility for ensuring that the plastics have a proper end-of-life disposal plan which was not only legal but also effective for the best environmental management.

Source : English News