Friday, April 6, 2012

GAMBIA: NEA To Replace Plastic Bags With Paper Bags


As plastic waste bags are becoming a major concern for the National Environment Agency (NEA), plans are underway to replace them with paper bags,  Mr. Muhammud Jallom Jabang, Senior Programme Environment  Quality Officer at  NEA informed journalists during an interview at the sideline of the NEA organized forum with relevant stakeholders. 
The forum, held at NEA headquarters in Kanifing, was attended by manufacturers, importers and senior government officials.
Jabang told journalists that plastic waste bags have become a major concern and efforts at curbing its proliferation in the environment would form basis for discussion with relevant stakeholders involved in manufacturing plastic bags in the country.
According to him, the NEA on many occasions, has invited plastic bags manufacturing companies to  meetings  with a view to come up with possible solutions, and ultimate ban of plastic bags in the country.

He added that the manufacturing of plastic bags is increasing in the country, noting that plastic waste bags constitute about 20 to 30 percent of waste generated in The Gambia.
Jabang pointed out that waste plastic bags do not decompose when buried in the soil and this, he lamented, has greatly affected  the soil.
“Plastic waste bags also affect our fish species and generate toxic fumes when burnt and that can cause cancer, he revealed.
NEA’s  Senior Programme Officer noted that the waste generated from waste plastic bags when burnt could cause havoc to the population.
“Everyday we are witnessing people burning waste plastic bags in our homes, markets, farms etc. and the fumes that are produced from the burning can cause cancer and other serious diseases to human being and animals. Waste plastic bags are not environmental friendly,” the official told the press. 
According to  Jabang, animals do die when they eat the waste plastic bags,while they also seriously obstruct the traffic because the waste plastic bags are “flying all over the streets making places dirty”. 
Waste plastic bags, he re-echoed,  seriously obstruct the traffic when blown by storm and heavy wind, and sometimes blocked the vision of drivers.
During the raining season, he added, waste plastic bags are carried by running water to the rivers, streams and even into the ocean, hence making the water dirty. 
He then cited  Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya as examples of countries that have banned waste plastic use in their countries.
“We will come up with tangible solution to ban the waste plastic and save our environment from threats cause by waste plastic bags,” the NEA official underlined.
Because of these problems, the NEA has been engaging relevant stakeholders like government institutions, plastic importers, manufacturers, and water producing companies to meetings, so as to dialogue and replace the plastic bags with paper bags.

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