In line with Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s vision to achieve a clean, green and sustainable environment, Anambra state ministry of Environment is set to hold the maiden edition of the All Anambra Community Plastic Waste Recovery Challenge.
The Challenge, which is to be done in collaboration with Anambra State Waste Recyclers Association, is scheduled to kick off on the 8th of June, 2023.
The State Commissioner for Environment, Engr Dr Felix Odimegwu, made the disclosure during a World Press Briefing in his office in Awka, to mark the 2023 World Environment Day in the state.
World Environment Day, WED is an international day set aside by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for creating Environmental awareness and sensitisation, and the theme for the 2023 celebration is “Solution to plastic pollution” with the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution.
Speaking on the celebration, the Anambra Environment Commissioner, Odimegwu said plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with the waste it produces.
He observed that plastic pollution has moved into a crisis not just in Anambra state but globally which requires both immediate and sustained attention and action.
“The world generates over 300 million tonnes of plastic waste a year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year as a result of indiscriminate dumping.
“It takes over 400 years for plastics to decompose while only 8% of the plastics are being recycled. Hence, the remainder pose huge problems to our environment causing nuisance and pollution everywhere.
“Plastic pollution has detrimental impacts on marine life and the health of ecosystems (marine animals ingests plastic waste or microplastics, human in turn eats marine animals). It causes environmental degradation which in turn leads to economic losses for communities and industries. Exposure to plastics especially when used in microwaving food can endanger human health, affecting fertility, metabolism, neurology etc,” he said.
According to the Commissioner, the Plastic Waste Recovery Challenge which will span across 179 communities in the 21 local government area in the state, aims to rid the state off 10,000 tons of plastic wastes stuck in the street, homes, drainages and water ways in the state.
He said; “this is a holistic approach to solution to plastic pollution as the state moves with clear vision towards a circular economy where plastics stay in use for as long as possible. In circular economy, we try to ensure that most plastic products automatically begin a new life at the end of its original life.
“To achieve plastic free Anambra, we need to practise the 5rs in waste management/ principles of circular economy which is- Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.
“We hope to rid the state off 10,000 tons of plastic stuck in our street, homes, drainages and water ways via this project.
“This challenge is open to all Anambrarians, NGOs, business owners, ASATU (women, men and youth wing), Environmental enthusiast, stakeholders and we request the participation of everyone in this project.
“There will be great rewards for winners in the all categories.”
The Commissioner further explained that the initiative is to incentivise the waste management business to ensure that the people have a buy-in in Governor Soludo’s vision of a clean, green and sustainable environment.
To this end, he revealed that the winners of the categories of the challenge, which will be determine by the volume of plastics recovered, will get one million naira, while runners-up will also be encouraged in various ways.
“We have divided the communities into urban, semi-urban and rural communities and each winner from these categories will get one million each.
“The idea is to make the people more responsive to plastic waste disposal, ensure wealth generation from the wastes and maintain a clean environment in keeping with the vision of Governor Soludo, who hit the ground running from day one, with efforts in addressing environmental issues in the state,” he posited.
The Commissioner urged Anambra people and residents to support the government’s efforts to manage wastes effectively in the state, noting that if any hazard occurs, the first victims will be the people in that locality and not the governor or the government.
Some representatives of recycling partners with the State Government, Ben Agabe and Akinyemi Oluwafemi, who spoke on behalf of the Anambra State Association of Waste Recyclers expressed happiness with the partnership with the government.
They said the challenge is to effect a citizen-driven programme to recover and recycle plastic and rid the environment of them, as according to them, no one will be immune to the disaster that will occur if the wastes are not well-managed.
Oluwafemi revealed that in partnership with the state government, they are establishing a recycling bank as an initiative to create value around the waste business.
“All over the place, you can’t see any money on the roads because of the value our people place on it.
“That’s the kind of thing we want to achieve with waste, where the people have the consciousness that plastic waste is money and that they can get money whenever they take it to the recycling plant.
“So, we want to thank the Commissioner for his commitment to driving this initiative and we believe that it is the best way to go in ensuring that our people see the wealth in waste,” he said.
On her part, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ngozi Anuli Iwunor encouraged Anambra people to participate in the challenge, assuring them that it is in the best interest of everyone to protect the environment.
“You will never know who will be a victim of this plastic devastation and that is why we must get involved and not leave the job for the government alone,” she said.