Professor Augustine Arukwe, of the Department of Biology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway has warned that the emerging environmental challenges posed by plastics would be a huge problem to battle with in the next century, as it poses several threats to human beings, the environment and aquatic life.
He was speaking at a seminar held under the auspices of INNO-SCI, a company which focuses on promoting innovation and science, technology to develop new and evolving solutions to problems caused by plastics.
The seminar dubbed “Plastics in the Environment” brought together stakeholders in the plastics and environmental sector, waste management experts and was held at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Legon in Accra.
Prof. Arukwe called for a collective responsibility and attitudinal change in curbing the challenges that plastics pose to Ghana and the world as a whole environmentally and health wise.
According to him, we have a moral responsibility to preserve the environment for ourselves and future generations and must see the need in finding solutions to the dangers plastics pose to the environment.
“It is not enough to say that the plastic menace does not concern me as an individual, because they end up on our food table and affect our health eventually,” he said.
He disclosed that plastic products are vectors for contaminants of emerging concern in aquatic systems based on his research over the years.
He encouraged Ghanaians to embark on behavioural change practices which would influence them to reduce the pollution of plastic to the environment to the benefit of the world as a whole.
He stated that “in January 2017, a stranded whale was found dead on the Norwegian coast with a stomach full of plastic. Scientists found more than 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste inside its stomach and the news spread all over the world and became a wakeup call for a lot of people around the globe”.
Professor Arukwe also indicated that a recent report indicated that the amount of plastic in the world’s ocean is set to triple in a decade unless action is taken to deal with the problem.
However, experts have warned that plastic is one of the biggest threats facing the world’s seas and it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, he added.
The CEO of INNO-SCI, Eunice Hammond-Mørklid, noted that “the project goes straight to the core of what we do and illustrates how Innovation and Science can help to fond good solutions to a major environmental problem”.
She explained that her organization is determined to use the project to collaborate with industry players to find solutions to solve problems pertaining to plastics.
“Each and every one of us is responsible for correcting this wrong. Plastic is a major environmental problem, and it is crucial that we find a solution. We now need to use the knowledge acquired on plastics, its effects on the environment and human health to make individual changes that would contribute immensely to making our environment safe again,” she added.
The CEO noted that plastic experts globally, “are using their expertise to bring awareness and develop technology to reduce the extent of damage that plastic can cause to the earth.”
Mrs Hammond-Mørklid, explained that as a Ghanaian living in Norway, she saw the need to replicate methods and techniques being implemented in Norway and other parts of the world and took the bold step to hold the conference in Ghana.