Take a walk in the highly populated corners of the busiest towns and popular marketplaces in Zambia, it will not take more than a few minutes before you notice large amounts of plastic waste on the roads or drainage systems (For example, Chisokone market in Kitwe, Intercity bus terminus, and Kamwala areas in Lusaka). Drainage systems have been covered with single-use plastic containers and plastic bags, not forgetting the infamous Styrofoam packages from Hungry Lion and many other takeaway restaurants.
Photo: Lusaka Times
These restaurants and shops, including street vendors who sell plastics to customers when leaving big stores, such as ShopRite and pick n’ pay, do not care where their packages or single-use plastic bags will end up later.
Single-use plastic products, such as bottles and Styrofoam, are non-degradable substances that fill up in numbers and have affected thousands of wildlife around the world. They have ended up in aquatic ecosystems and forests, carried by water runoffs following heavy rainfall or wind, including the careless people that throw these items anywhere through windows when traveling. The sad reality is that many of the times we wonder how drainages are blocked and floods occur in many compounds of the capital city (Lusaka) is not as a result of the heavy rains experienced on a particular day, but because runoffs can easily be directed in drainage systems. It is as a result of plastics blocking drainage systems which later result in stagnant pools of water that become breeding environments of different disease-causing parasites and renders the environment unclean.
Photo:Clausin Lwipa Chulu
As Youth for Our Planet Zambia, we hope that the Zambian government will realize the effects of such pollutants and take action to ban the sale of any plastic bags, either in the streets or shops that have not adhered to the use of biodegradable products. The source of plastic bags sold on the streets should be key as well in addressing these issues to protect the environment and human health.
Photo:Clausin Lwipa Chulu
We are calling on the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to act together and change their approach. We advocate for a complete ban on single-use plastics because while the partial ban, which was introduced by the Zambian government through the Statutory Instrument No. 65 of 2018 on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), is a great step towards a sustainability pathway, it does not entirely solve the problem. Therefore, we need a long-term solution, we need to be sustainable and environmentally smart and forge ahead to a healthier, cleaner, and better country because sustainability requires a multidisciplinary approach to assess the impact of our actions on the environment and develop solutions.