Continent’s environmental minds search for solutions to plastic pollution
Africa needs to unite and educate its children against the “monster” of plastic pollution which is increasingly contaminating its shores as only 4% — a tiny fraction — is recycled each year.
This is according to Port Elizabeth’s Sustainable Seas Trust (SST), who brainstormed solutions to the ever-growing problem at a plastics education workshop dedicated to “Zero Plastics to the Seas of Africa” with delegates from seven countries on the continent last week.
They will return to the table on Friday to lead a similar workshop with the British High Commission in Port Elizabeth.
SST education head Nozi Mbongwa said of the challenges: “It’s not rocket science, it’s much, much more difficult.”
She said the enormity of the plastic pollution is so immense that SST hopes to partner with educational authorities to map a way forward so that children learn about plastic pollution in the school curriculum.
It also plans to publish a user-friendly textbook to enable teachers and others in educational fields to reach children across Africa.
Mbongwa said the main objectives of the workshop were to increase capacity and share knowledge ahead of an international conference to be held in Nelson Mandela Bay in April 2020.
“We want to build a strong team of well-informed teachers and educators to participate in the second International African Marine Waste Network Conference of 2020 to be held from April 20-24 2020 at the Boardwalk Conference Centre in Port Elizabeth.
“It is important to integrate into the school curriculum. ”
Waste is a growing problem for the continent, SST CEO Tony Ribbink said.
“Africa as a whole is only recycling 4% of its plastics, and that’s across 54 countries, so we hope countries will bring their regional and national action plan to the conference in 2020,” he said.
“Plastic pollution is a monster and a problem for many countries in Africa,” Kenyan teacher Dorcas Ndinda Muinda said.
“The eradication of plastic bags has kicked off well although we still have people bringing in pollution from outside the country.”
Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and SA — all of which border the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Africa — were represented at the Isango Gate Boutique Hotel in the educational indaba, as well as the UK.
The series of workshops are being presented with assistance from the British Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and the Commonwealth Litter Project.