Feb 15, 2010, 2:07 PM
According to the state authorities, come 1st July 2015, the manufacturing, importation, retailing and use of plastic bags in The Gambia will have to cease.
“In this regard, the NEA (National Environment Agency) would like to inform the general public, particularly individuals, businesses and companies engaged in water packaging, local plastic manufactures, plastic importers, dealers and sellers within The Gambia to comply with the directive,” the latest statement issued on the ban by NEA has said.
This action is being taken because of the negative effects and impacts of the rampant use of plastic bags in the country.
Some of the negative impacts of the indiscriminate use of plastic bags in a country are danger to animal life, effects of pacific trash vortex, litter problem, loss of resources, and greenhouse gases.
A great variety of animals, on land and water, meet their untimely death due to plastic bags/substance intake.
If plastic substance is swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and would die a slow death from starvation or infection, according to the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA).
It is also true that floating plastics in the world’s oceans accumulate and add to the Pacific Trash Vortex, a ‘gyre’ or vortex of marine litter in the North Pacific Ocean.
The vortex is characterised by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastics, such as plastic bags, bottles, containers and other debris, that have been trapped by currents.
Plastic bags also contribute enormously to the increasing litter problem we face in the environment and this costs us a lot of work and financial resources to get it cleared from the environment
The more plastic bags being manufactured in the country, the more greenhouse gas we experience in our environment. For instance, a “lightweight plastic bags consumes about 4.5 times more energy in its manufacture than reusable ‘green bags’.”
For these and other negative factors, the excessive manufacture and use of plastics have been banned in several countries around the world.
However, the general public is going to grapple with some serious constraints when the ban takes effect in the country.
This is because banning plastic bag use in our society will affect not only the thousands of people who depend on or earn their living from the manufacture and sale of these materials; it will certainly also seriously affect users of plastic bags.
Certain food items and/or condiments that are bought from the general markets and supermarkets are best suited to be held in plastic bags.
Therefore, if plastic bags should be put out of use then suitable alternatives should be proffered or planned by all and sundry, especially the manufacturers and sellers of plastic bags, and the state authorities, who are both trying to serve the interest of the general public.
“Plastic bags are neither efficient nor