The Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa, Martin Jacob, has made a case for the proper disposal and recycling of plastic wastes to reduce its harmful effect on the ocean, wildlife and humans.
Mr. Jacob spoke on Thursday during a cleanup exercise organized by APM Terminals Apapa in partnership with Wecyclers at the Ogogoro Island, a riverine community in Apapa, Lagos as part of the company’s 2018 “Go Green” campaign. No fewer than 120 employees of the company, Wecyclers volunteers and residents of the community took part in the cleaning exercise; collecting trash and other litters from the shoreline of the island. The total waste collected weighed 228kg.
“Go Green” is a worldwide campaign set up by a number of leading container terminal operators and port authorities, with the aim of raising awareness of the global natural and social environment and improving conditions in these areas. The campaign is carried out annually through volunteer activities such as creating and upgrading local green spaces, launching educational programmes, adopting waste recycling measures and community engagement.
Mr. Jacob said the cleanup exercise was aimed at raising the awareness of APM Terminals’ staff and the general community on the importance of environmental care through proper management of plastic waste.
The APM Terminals Apapa Managing Director, who noted that it may be difficult to abolish the use of plastic bottles, said there is however, an urgent need to take action against plastic pollution in Nigeria to protect the marine environment.
He said, “In Nigeria, very often you see the whole place flooded. This is all because of the plastic bottles we throw in the drains. So we just want to spread the message among our communities and also our employees to inculcate the culture of disposing plastic waste in a proper manner, in other words, recycle it.
“We can’t stop using plastics. Plastic nowadays has become part of our lives. Even if you buy chocolate in the supermarket, they give nylon and you accept it and that is the reason we find it everywhere. This in turn causes more damage to our environment. Plastic gives us a lot of benefits but careless usage is what is giving us the problem we face today.
“There are islands of plastic bottles floating around the ocean. Depending on how we handle plastics, we can avoid the dangers in our environment. So this is not just going to be a one-day thing for us, it is what we should take home, at work and in our families. We have spread the culture, so this should become a movement to prevent abuse of plastic.”
One of the leaders of the Ogogoro Island community, Alade Isaiah, expressed appreciation to APM Terminals for taking up the clean up exercise, even as he urged other port operators to emulate the good gesture of the leading port operator.
“We love what APM Terminals has done by cleaning our environment. Our women and children have also supported them in this cleaning exercise. We will emulate this fine example by keeping our environment clean so that the dirt around do not go inside the water,” he said.
Environmental pollution caused by plastics are capable of causing harm to land, waterways and oceans. Living organisms, particularly marine animals, can be harmed either by mechanical effects, such as entanglement in plastic objects or problems related to ingestion of plastic waste, or through exposure to chemicals within plastics that interfere with their physiology. Humans are also affected by plastic pollution, such as through disruption of various hormonal mechanisms.
About 380 million tonnes of plastic is produced worldwide each year. From the 1950s up to 2018, an estimated 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced worldwide, of which less than ten percent has been recycled and another twelve percent incinerated.
Experts believe that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight if concerted efforts are not made to address the issue.