Once a law on a total ban on single-use plastics in Zambia is enacted, it will greatly benefit the environment. Flooding will be reduced, water quality will be improved, air and soil quality will be improved and wildlife as well as marine life will be protected. The ‘Kicking the Bags Out’ campaign also encourages the creation of local green jobs for women and youth.
The waste problem of Africa
Poor waste management practices, in particular the widespread dumping of wastes in water bodies and uncontrolled dump sites, aggravates the problems of generally low sanitation levels across the African continent. The gap between waste management policy and legislation and actual waste management practices is widening, due to ongoing capacity constraints or non-existence of waste management facilities for the different waste streams. Resolving this capacity gap will require major investments and access to technical know-how.
Zambia is being drowned in plastic waste. With the recent EPR and ban on 30 microns of plastic bags, this country still faces a huge waste management challenge.
A particular problem in the waste stream is plastics, particularly polythene bags. They impact both the environment and health of humans and animals. For one, drainage systems continue to get clogged by plastic bags every year, contributing to flooding. Plastics particularly PVC, when burned result in emissions of a toxin named dioxin and furan. Dioxins are chemical contaminants that accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals, and cause serious health issue in humans, such as cancer.
Waste management and the SDGs
The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals provide a generational opportunity to address the lingering problems the world still faces following the MDGs. The most applicable SDGs in addressing waste management issues in human settlements are:
- Goal 11 “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” Target 11.6 “by 2030, the world should reduce the adverse per capital environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality, municipal and other waste management”; and
- Goal 12 “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, Target 12.5 “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse”.
It is against this background that the Centre for Zero Waste and Development in Africa (CZWDA) seeks to engage the general public, the private sector, organizations, policy makers and local government in sustainable Zero Waste strategies that will urgently address the challenges the waste management systems in Africa face. Centre for Zero Waste & Development (CZWD) was an initiative of Youth Environment Network (YEN) Zambia and was founded in Washington, DC in 2013 by Billy Mwansa Lombe after analysing plastic bag bans/fees ordinances in developing countries and that of United States of America.