The National Environment Agency recently briefed journalists on the Ban on Plastic Bags Order 2015. Speaking on the occasion, the Executive Director of National Environment Agency (NEA), Momodou J. Suwareh, said in The Gambia, plastic bags pollution was causing severe environmental and health damages through various pathways in the marine ecosystem.
He disclosed that plastic bags that find their way into water bodies cause the death of juvenile fish and other marine species by entanglement. On land, he added that plastic bags destroy soil structure by reducing aeration and root penetration, hence threatening soil fertility and crop production.
Mr Suwareh said in the livestock sector, plastic bags caused death of livestock when swallowed or ingested, hence, causing huge economic loss to farmers.
“These problems threaten among other things our food security,” he said, adding that the plastic bags do not decompose.
According to Mr. Suwareh, most plastic wastes find their way into gutters and waterways; hence, it causes blockage and subsequent flooding disaster.
He said when plastic bags are burnt, the process of burning releases dangerous chemicals such as dioxins and furans causing cancer, skin disease, eye cataract and respiratory problems.
Mr Suwareh added that plastic bags are often misused by putting hot foods like Ebbeh, Café Touba etc. adding that this causes the release of the chemical content of the plastic into the food, hence, causes long term health problems.
The Government of The Gambia joined the list of countries that banned plastic bags effective 1st July 2015, and prohibits the import and manufacture, sale and the use of the plastic bags.
He disclosed that the Ban on Plastic Bags Order 2015 is a legal document that prohibits the manufacture, import, sales and use of plastic bags in the country.
The Programme Officer for Environmental Education & Communication at the NEA, Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang, revealed that it was estimated that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used globally each year.
Author: Yai Dibba
The Point Newspaper