The former Chairman of the Lagos Island chapter of Nigerian Environmental Society, Mr John Ekoko on Monday called for increased research on biodegradable materials to replace plastic packaging materials.
He made the call when he spoke on the 2018 World Environment Day in an interview in Lagos.
The United Nations (UN) has fixed June 5 as the World Environment Day to draw global attention to the need to protect the environment and the theme for the 2018 celebration is “Beat the Plastic Pollution’’.
Ekoko stressed that plastic materials were not biodegradable and they were, therefore, not environmental friendly.
“The 2018 World Environment Day is creating awareness of the environmental pollution caused by plastics and the need to curb the menace.
“This requires the involvement of all tiers of government, organisations manufacturing plastics products and related materials as well as individuals — the end users of the products.
“The government should champion the gradual phase-out of the use of plastics materials for product packaging by organisations. It should also encourage the recycling of plastic products, while ensuring that the citizens imbibe proper ways of disposing plastic packages,” he said.
Ekoko noted that there was a lot of plastic pollution going on across the world, as plastic waste often competed for space in oceans and on land.
He said that the plastics had some harmful micro-organisms which could contaminate underground water, adding that whenever people drank the contaminated water, they were prone to contracting water-borne diseases.
The environmentalist said that many big firms had now resorted to using paper products as alternative packaging materials, adding that other companies should be made to emulate such firms.
Ekoko said that the government should also regulate the use of plastics for product packaging, while promoting the use of biodegradable materials as an alternative.