New analysis has revealed that plastic waste is rapidly increasing in Africa and has surpassed other regions, causing concern.
According to the charity Tearfund, in sub-Saharan Africa, there is enough plastic waste being openly dumped or burned every minute to cover a football pitch.
Assuming the current pattern persists, the area is expected to have a yearly total of 116 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2060, which is six times greater than the 18 million tonnes generated in 2019. The primary factor contributing to the increase in plastic usage in sub-Saharan Africa is the growing demand for cars and other items due to higher incomes and population growth, particularly among the younger generation (70% of the population is under 30).
In the future, it is expected that global plastic consumption will nearly triple by the year 2060.
Before the upcoming UN treaty negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya, it was disclosed that there is a growing need for plastic in sub-Saharan Africa. However, numerous countries in this region lack the means to properly handle it.
According to Rich Gower, a senior economist at Tearfund, the evidence of environmental degradation is evident, but this agreement has the ability to address the plastic crisis and enhance the well-being of billions of individuals.
According to him, a large amount of plastic used in sub-Saharan Africa is in the form of packaging and is often discarded and incinerated. He called upon the negotiators in Nairobi to make significant cuts in plastic production and prioritize waste pickers who are responsible for disposing 60% of the world’s plastic waste, in the treaty.
Without international guidelines and laws, individuals residing in underdeveloped nations and those who collect and dispose of waste, experience a disproportionate amount of the negative effects on the environment and human health caused by plastic pollution.
Dr Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa, from Malawi, a waste campaigner who will be at the negotiations in Kenya, said: “While these negotiations continue, the health of people in Malawi and across Africa is being impacted by plastic pollution every day.
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 individuals who benefit from this plastic crisis and are resistant to making significant changes.
A letter addressed to the representatives of the Africa Group and other participants at the Nairobi negotiations, signed by 80 bishops and church leaders, expressed concerns about the excessive amounts of plastic waste that the region is struggling to manage.
A short distance from the location of the UN conference lies the Dandora landfill, which receives 30 truckloads of plastic waste on a daily basis. This area serves as a breeding place for mosquitoes, flies, and pests, raising the chances of diseases such as malaria, cholera, and diarrhea.
Before the final round of negotiations for the plastics treaty in May, John Chweya, the leader of Kenya’s waste pickers, who has played a crucial role in advocating for the recognition of the world’s 20 million waste pickers, expressed his desire for the treaty to address issues of fairness, access to healthcare, fair wages, and improved working conditions for waste collectors.
Tearfund conducted an analysis using data from a database belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which was then published in the Global Policies Outlook.