Greenpeace, a Netherlands-based non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 39 countries, has called for a ban on single use plastics in African countries. The rally hopes to boost environmental conservation but poses a threat to many manufacturers in the plastics industry.
According to the United Nations (UN) Environment Department, single-use plastics, often also referred to as disposable plastics, include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These include, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery, among other items.
Greenpeace’s call comes at a time when over 90% of sampled salt brands globally were found to contain microplastics, small barely visible pieces of plastic that enter and pollute the environment.
The highest number of microplastics came from salt sourced in Asia, according to a new study co-designed by Kim, Seung-Kyu, Professor at Incheon National University and Greenpeace.
The study, which has been published in Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, analyzed 39 various salt brands globally. The research found that plastic contamination in sea salt was highest, followed by lake salt, then rock salt, an indicator of the levels of plastic pollution in the areas where the salt was sourced. Only three of the studied salt brands studied did not contain any microplastic particles in the replicated samples.
“Recent studies have found plastics in seafood, wildlife, tap water, and now in salt. It’s clear that there is no escape from this plastic crisis, especially as it continues to leak into our waterways and oceans,” explained Awa Traore, West Africa Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa.
“We need to stop plastic pollution at its source and therefore call upon the accountability of big corporates in this crisis. They need to reduce their plastic footprint and take on the problem they have created,” she said.
“We also need to see the effective implementation of single use plastics ban laws in African countries and not only strong commitments from governments. For the health of people and our environment, it’s incredibly important that these big corporates be pushed to go beyond recycling, start taking responsibility for their contribution to plastic pollution and begin reducing single-use plastic production,” continued Awa Traoré.
Building on previous studies of microplastic pollution in salt, this research is the first of its scale to look at contaminant levels of the geographical spread of sea salt, and its correlation with environmental discharge and pollution levels of plastics.
This new research findings of plastics in salt with the two sample results for Senegal showing the types of salt, the level of a yearly 1 ton 49 riverine plastic emission, and the presence of Microplastics in sea salt, are good indicators of the correlation between abundance micro plastics in sea salts, riverine plastic emissions, and micro plastic level in seawater.
It’s another big critical highlight that plastic pollution is a global crisis, and Africa, in particular, must take this issue seriously, as the ecosystem and human health in African seas could potentially be at greater risk because of severe maritime microplastics pollution.
Assuming intake of 10 grams per day of salt, the average adult consumer could ingest approximately 2,000 microplastics each year through salt alone, as the study suggests.
Earlier this month, Greenpeace along with the Break Free from Plastic coalition released a report naming Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé among the most frequent companies whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics that pollute oceans and waterways globally.
The organization believes that proper regulation could help save millions of lives in the long run, while conserving important aspects of the environment.