Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has called for legislation against use of plastic for packaging and storage, as the only way forward to beating plastic pollution in the environment.
Governor Ikpeazu spoke at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State during the 2018 World Environment Day titled: “Beat Plastic Pollution, If you can’t, re-use it, refuse it.”
“The only way forward is to opt for a refusal of the plastic option. Let us legislate against its use for packaging and storage. There are more sustainable and environmentally friendly options.”
According to Governor Ikpeazu, who is a Biochemist and former university lecturer, “plastic is an extraneous substance to the environment. It is not naturally occurring and is largely derived from the polymerization of ethylene.
“Therefore the chemical structure of plastic renders them resistant to most biodegradation processes. Indicating that they can be retained in the physical as well as biological system for longer period of time. Hence it’s accumulation which constitutes pollution to the environment.”
The Governor identified two major factors that lead to increased levels of plastics in environment as: “high level of plastic production by human who needs them for storage, packaging transportation and slow degradation processes.”
Governor Ikpeazu however decried that: “whereas it is possible to control the method of plastic handling in the developed world, in Africa and indeed Nigeria, more plastics are burnt and the rest are left to block drainages, leading to flooding and utter pollution of our water ways.
“The implication of handling plastics is far reaching. If they are allowed into the sea, it takes a long time to degrade the marine conservancy has predicted that foam will take 50 years to decompose while plastic beverage holder will take 400 years. A disposable napkin will take 450 years while fishing line will take 600 years.
“Unfortunately, a byproduct of this degradation is byphenol which also has profound deleterious impact on aquatic life, as well as consequences for human organs that encounter it.”
In his remark, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Francis Otunta thanked the Governor for making time out of his busy schedule to visit the University and to deliver the lecture on plastic pollution in the environment.
The Governor was accompanied to the University by his Commissioner for Education, Prof Ikechi Mgboji, Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Aham Uko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Uzo Azubuike and Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, Dr Uchenna Onyeizu, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Environment and Climate Change, among other top government functionaries.