Together we can #EndPlasticPollution
Our vision is that, decades from now, those beautiful words penned by Valerie Rodway could be sung with sincere meaning, and would be a true reflection of our native land. This vision, however, is under threat from plastic pollution.
The global movement to ‘End Plastic Pollution,’ which has been launched this Earth Day by the Earth Day network, is very timely. Like many other developing countries, Guyana is challenged to successfully manage plastic waste, which is being produced at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, we are also the recipients of trans-boundary waste on our shores.
You have been seeing and hearing about the drastic impacts of plastic pollution on the environment, organisms, and human health. This Earth Day, it is important to acknowledge that we all have contributed to this problem, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The time is now for us to stop and evaluate our day-to-day decisions, so that we can transform into action our desire to make lasting changes in our behaviour.
Plastic Pollution in Guyana
It is sometimes easier to think of problems affecting larger countries around the world because of messages being blasted in the media. We must, however, turn our attention to issues at home, and get involved in the solutions. The State of the Environment Report 2016 highlights what is happening with regards to solid waste in Guyana. Did you know that an average of 166,000 tons of municipal solid waste is generated every year in Guyana? It is also estimated that plastic waste, like plastic bags, bottles, diapers and other plastics, contribute to 18% of municipal solid waste (MSW). Even more startling is that, according to the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, total waste is expected to increase to over 200,000 tons annually, based on a predicted 18 % increase of MSW per capita.
Where do they go?
In our beautiful capital city of Georgetown, plastics make up most of our solid waste, besides mixed waste. While the Haags Bosch Landfill receives much of the waste from Georgetown and the East Bank area, other major ways of garbage disposal include open burning and open dumping. Therefore, a lot of our waste ends up where it shouldn’t. Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) has conveyed that plastic bags entering the sewerage system in the absence of screening processes, in some cases, causes motor failure and blockage of the sewerage pumps, and thus the backing up of raw sewage in populated areas. We can also see the evidence almost anywhere.
Compared to global standards, our waste management system is far from ideal. What is the problem with single-use plastics? Where are they coming from? Who is using them? What needs to change? With advances in knowledge for green technology, many international companies have explored the options for producing more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. There are many options for reusable shopping bags, like linen and canvas. The lesser-desired biodegradable plastic bags have been on the market for several years. The much easier and faster option is, of course, to simply refuse single-use plastics. Every straw, plastic bag, take-out food container, coffee cup that we refuse will start to make the difference that is needed.
“Ending Plastic Pollution is a group effort. It will happen only if we all know that we are working together to come up with every solution we can. We will reduce our consumption much more if we know that we are part of a community that is striving together to change our habits and behaviours. You will be joining a global movement of billions of people all doing the same thing. This will make a difference!!” – Earth Day Network
Come on board this Earth Day and always!!!
Local Upcoming Events
Earth Day Opening Ceremony & Exhibition – April 23, 2018, Baridi Benab, State House
Single-use Plastic Free Day – April 22, 2018
Trash to Fashion Show & Exhibition – April 27, 2018, Main Street, between Middle & Quamina streets.
See our Facebook page for more details.
You can also share with us your plans to go plastic free. Happy Earth Day!
You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected] or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.