Waste from coronavirus Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become a new form of pollution as single-use plastic PPE floods drainages and oceans. In Nigeria, millions of used elastic gloves and masks are discarded daily. Hand sanitiser bottles and other waste are already found on seabeds and washed up on beaches, joining the day-to-day litter in ocean ecosystems.
The promotion of use of non-pharmaceuticals to slow the spread of COVID-19 has caused an extraordinary increase in the production of disposable masks. The UN trade body, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), estimates that global sales will hit $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019. Recent media reports, showing videos and photos of divers picking up masks and gloves in drainage channel and oceans, were wake-up calls for many, refocusing minds on the plastic pollution issue and a reminder that politicians, leaders and individuals need to address the problem of plastic pollution.
Nigeria is one of the largest importers and consumers of plastics on the continent. Approximately, 14,200,000 tons of plastics in primary form were imported into Nigeria between 1996 and 2014. Approximately 3,420,000 tons total plastic were imported in the form of products and approximately 5,545,700 tons were imported as product components. About 194,000 tons of plastic toys were imported over a six-year period. The total amount of plastics imported in primary form and as products equals 17,620,000 tons. The total volume of imported plastic, newly produced plastic and plastic components going into the technosphere was 23,400,000 tons.
The huge amount of plastic and other polymers entering the technosphere in Nigeria has grave implications for marine litter, pollution, waste management and resource recovery.
Read the full article from The Guardian Nigeria here.