How Many Years Does It Take For Plastic To Decompose latest 2023

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Fighting Plastic Pollution: What Ghana Must Do As the World Marks the 2018 Earth Day

One of the destructive environmental challenges on earth that is destroying its natural resources at an alarming rate in this 21st century is plastic pollution. There is a ubiquitous use of plastics for domestic, industrial and commercial activities. It is estimated that each year, globally, humans generate more than 350 million tons of plastic waste. It is estimated that a third of global plastic waste comes from product packaging. These plastics are very difficult to break down and end up being ghosts haunting the lives of humans. The decomposition lifespan of many of these plastics ranges from 50 to 600 years! Unfortunately, many of these plastics end up being very destructive, destroying our rivers, oceans, forests and biological diversity. The health consequences of plastic waste on human and animal life cannot be underestimated. Inhalation of burnt plastic waste causes various respiratory illnesses that claim many lives at rates skyrocketing than fatal HIV/AIDS. Direct and indirect ingestion of plastic pollutants into water bodies leads to slow strangulation, amoebic dysentery, giardiasis and other deadly diseases. Due to the devastating nature of plastic pollution, many international bodies, conservation agencies, and governments are considering productive strategies to stop it.

The canker of plastic pollution is so great in developing countries like Ghana. In addition to locally generated plastic pollutants, Ghana imports over 100,000 metric tons of plastic products every year. Many of these plastics become destructive pollutants in the Ghanaian environment. Ghana needs to develop strategies to stop the canker of plastic pollution. One way is to raise awareness among the Ghanaian population about the negative health consequences of plastic through environmental education programs. Mass media should be tasked by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to conduct plastic pollution awareness and education programs. The government must reduce the import of plastic products, while completely banning plastic products with high antioxidant content. A massive campaign on the use of biodegradable materials as alternatives to plastics must be intensified. Food processors and fast food vendors need to engage in dialogues to start using biodegradable or organic packaging for their food. Big lessons can be learned from the biodegradable leaf plates being used in India now. Food scientists and engineers should be supported with funding to develop and produce locally made, sustainable biodegradable packaging for their food.

Another innovative way to tackle plastic pollution in Ghana is to encourage the recycling of plastic waste into creative and usable products. This would turn deadly plastic pollutants into economic gains for the country. Technology departments in Ghanaian educational institutions as well as interested companies should be supported to engage in intensive plastics recycling projects. Lessons can be learned from the company EcoDomum in Mexico which engages in the production of housing products through the recycling of plastics. Artists who engage in installation art and other innovative art projects using plastic waste should be supported by government funding. In addition, it is mandatory for the government of Ghana to ask companies that generate a lot of plastic pollutants to find ways to recycle their plastic waste or risk going bankrupt. Taxes on the importation of plastic recycling machinery should be removed or reduced to encourage food and beverage companies in Ghana to recycle their plastic waste.

The polluter-pays policy must be reinforced by raising the financial penalty or fines, in particular for plastic waste. This would increase the resilient nature of government laws on plastic pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency must employ health inspectors to report people, households or industries that pollute the environment with their plastic waste and improperly dispose of their plastic waste so that they are prosecuted. The government should establish a law within the framework of environmental laws to arrest and prosecute all people who indiscriminately throw plastic waste in the streets, gutters, etc. from Ghana. The government of Ghana should work with the traditional authorities of the various Ghanaian communities and give them the responsibility to establish and enforce environmental regulations to address the threat of plastic pollution in their respective jurisdictions. Some countries are currently funding scientific studies aimed at generating genetically modified organisms capable of breaking down plastics relatively faster, within weeks by feeding on them. Ghana may consider funding similar studies, all aimed at tackling plastic pollution canker.

This is the time when Ghana must hold hands with the world in the fight against plastic pollution canker. The government of Ghana must reduce the import of plastics; promote the use of biodegradable materials, especially as product packaging, while financing projects for the recycling of plastic waste and the generation of GMOs for the consumption of plastic waste. In addition, the government must strengthen environmental laws and prosecutions related to plastic pollution while stepping up environmental education on the dangers associated with plastic pollution. These strategies would help save the Ghanaian environment, save the earth which is the home and eternal treasure of all biological species.

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