A recent study has revealed that plastic waste is rapidly increasing in Africa, surpassing the growth rate of any other region. This issue is described as “spiralling out of control.”
According to Tearfund, every minute in sub-Saharan Africa, there is enough plastic waste being openly disposed of or incinerated to cover a football field.
If the current pattern persists, the area is estimated to accumulate 116 million tons of plastic waste every year by 2060, which is six times greater than the 18 million tons produced in 2019. The primary factor contributing to the increase in plastic usage in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the population is under the age of 30, is the demand for automobiles and other goods due to the combination of rising income and population growth.
In the future, it is expected that global plastic consumption will nearly triple by the year 2060.
The increasing need for plastic in sub-Saharan Africa, where several countries lack the ability to handle it, was brought to light ahead of a conference in Nairobi, Kenya next week where governments will work on a UN agreement to address plastic pollution.
Rich Gower, senior economist at Tearfund, said: “The signs of environmental breakdown are all around us, but this treaty has the potential to curb the plastics crisis and improve the lives of billions of people.
The speaker stated that a large amount of plastic being used in sub-Saharan Africa is used for packaging and ultimately ends up being discarded and incinerated. He called upon negotiators in Nairobi to come to a consensus on significant decreases in plastic production and to prioritize waste pickers, who are responsible for disposing of 60% of the world’s plastic waste, in the treaty.
In the absence of universal guidelines and laws, individuals residing in underdeveloped nations and those who collect and dispose of waste suffer more significantly from the negative effects of plastic pollution on the environment and health.
Dr. Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa, a waste advocate from Malawi, will attend the negotiations in Kenya and expressed concern about the impact of plastic pollution on the health of people in Malawi and throughout Africa.
Every day in Malawi, plastic waste is burned and dumped, causing harm to people’s health. The recent negotiations have indicated that change is on the horizon, but it will not be a simple process. There are those who benefit from the plastic crisis and aim to limit the level of ambition for addressing it.
A public message addressed to delegates from the Africa Group and other participants of the Nairobi negotiations, signed by 80 religious leaders and bishops, expressed concern over the excessive amount of poorly handled plastic waste plaguing the region.
The Dandora landfill site, located just a few miles from the UN conference location, receives 30 truckloads of plastic waste daily. This creates an ideal environment for mosquitoes, flies, and vermin, leading to a higher chance of diseases such as malaria, cholera, and diarrheal illness.
In May, prior to the final round of talks for the plastics treaty, John Chweya, leader of Kenya’s waste pickers and a key advocate for recognition of the 20 million waste pickers worldwide, expressed his desire for the treaty to address issues of fairness, healthcare, fair wages, and improved working conditions for waste collectors.
Tearfund’s assessment relies on data from a database managed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and is presented in the Global Policies Outlook.