WINDHOEK- The bulk of the waste generated in Namibia ends up in open illegal dumpsites, urban streams, in rivers, and in the ocean as well as in the deserts.
The sight of cattle and goats ingesting plastic bags and other forms of litter has become all too common while recent research has estimated that 90 percent of the world’s seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
These were the words of Environment and Tourism Deputy Minister Bernadette Jagger, who says if nothing is done about this situation, by 2050 the mass of plastics in the oceans will exceed the total mass of fish.
“When humans eat fish or livestock contaminated by plastics, the plastic nanobeads are absorbed through our digestive systems, circulated in our blood and end up in our arteries, muscles, brains, joints and other tissues. The effect of this on human health is not yet well understood, but it is a cause for serious concern and medical research on this matter is ongoing,” she noted.
Besides the threat of litter and waste to human health, Jagger reminded that litter and irresponsible waste diposal are polluting the environment and destroying the overal image and perception on the country.
Therefore, she emphasised the national clean up campaign has been designed to remind everyone to take action against elements that pollute and destroy the environment.
According to her, the ministry is committed to enhancing education and awareness with regard to proper waste management and pollution control.
“However, allow me to say that each of us has a role to play in changing our attitudes and mind-sets towards the littering of our environment. Let us start by having pride and thinking before we throw that plastic bag or wrappers out of our car window or onto the street. They say out of sight out of mind but let us think what happens to the plastic bag or bottle,” Jagger urged.
Moreover, she said everyone need to realise that waste has a value, adding this is one of the reasons why government is in the process of introducing the plastic bag charge.
She urged everyone to be innovative and to explore the immense business potential that goes with the environmentally sound management of waste.
There are an increasing number of companies engaged in the recycling of different types of waste.
She revealed approximately 34,949kgs of waste was recycled during last year’s clean-up campaign. Recycling was in the past associated only with scrap metal, but now she said people see increasing opportunities in recycling paper, plastic, cans, glass not to mention electronic waste and other forms of waste such as tyres.
“The more we can reduce, reuse and recycle, the less pressure will be exerted on our landfills and waste disposal sites.”