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Faith Nyasuguta

A fresh report has disclosed that toxic chemicals in plastic waste exports from rich nations are polluting food in low and middle income countries.

Dubbed ‘Plastic Waste Poisoning Food and Threatening Communities in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America’ the report showed how plastic waste handling methods poisons local populations.

The findings as reported by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) said that virtually all plastics hold some hazardous chemical additives.

“Most of the plastic waste exported from wealthy countries to developing economies or economies in transition is landfilled, burned, or dumped into waterways. All of these disposal methods result in highly toxic emissions that remain in the environment for decades and build up in the food chain,” the report said.

IPEN is a worldwide environmental initiative with over 600 public interest NGOs in some 124 nations.It is registered in Sweden as a non- profit organisation advocating for public interest which seeks to eliminate the most dangerous substances to ensure a toxic free future for all.

Between April 2018 and February 2019, reference samples were collected in Prague.The study focussed on very toxic persistent organic pollutants getting into the food chain at locations undergoing plastic waste recycling, dumping, burning and incineration.

The revelation comes even as Africa, one of the highly affected, is not a major plastic or chemical producer. “But plastic waste and the contamination that comes with it is growing in Africa. This is because wealthy countries are exporting their waste to us. This problem will only grow worse in the coming years if it is not stopped now,” Griffins Ochieng from the Centre for Environment Justice and Development-Kenya said.

The report has thus called for the prohibition and stopped production and use of plastics. It has also called on the ban on toxic additives in plastics.It has thus recommended that imports of plastic and electronic waste exports be halted.

Plastic dumping site /courtesy/
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Faith Nyasuguta

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