Imperative Of Proper Sachet Water Disposal
I am amazed at the quantity of ‘pure water’ sachets and plastic bags that are raked from various drainages during each monthly environmental sanitation exercise in Port Harcourt is amazing.
From east to west, and from north to south, the evidence of this nuisance is seen in the amount of disposed sachets littering the streets of the various state capitals of Nigeria. What, however, Nigerians and our government have failed to realize is the environmental burden the substance places on us.
Environmentalists or experts on the environment refer to plastic bags which include ‘pure water’ sachets as non-biodegradable materials. What this means in very simple term is that they cannot decompose like other organic waste. It is, therefore, not advisable for them to be buried as they affect the soil structure. They cannot be burned as well as that may affect the ozone layer. How then can they be disposed off?
It is more alarming when I consider the many shopping items that depend on plastic bags for packaging. Where are all these bags kept and where do they end up at last? These are some of the rhetoric questions that bother my mind each time I reflect on this subject.
Plastic bags and ‘pure water’ sachets are common sight in our streets and major roads. They are either littered by human agents or by rain which, when it results in flooding, moves the substances from one location to another.
What has always been a great source of concern to me and perhaps to many Nigerians is the failure of our government at all tiers to address the dilemma. Although it may not make good sense to close down all the factories that produce plastic bags in the country in order to solve the problem, something can be done to either regulate its production or use. On the other hand, an alternative product could be a viable option.
I must commend whoever introduced sachet water into the market. Such one demonstrated real dexterity in business. This is because the product is convenient for use, affordable and makes good economic sense. It has brought ‘potable’ water to the doorsteps of many Nigerians. Also, the venture has given employment to Nigerians which enables them to put food on their table and finance the education of their children. That is why I will not support any move to stop its production entirely.
But if the truth must be told, the fact we all may admit is the high vulnerability of sachet water consumers to water borne diseases. This fact has been proved and evidence abound that many untimely deaths were caused by the consumption of sachet water. This is besides the environmental problems it poses. Therefore, the question we all need to ask is how can we contain this problem without endangering the production of the water as well as the soul of the environment?
As a nation we cannot compromise the protection of our environment. We need to preserve it for posterity. So, what I think can be done in the circumstances is to commence the immediate production of biodegradable sachets as well as plastic bags which can be used for water packaging and general purposes. This kind of plastics is the type that can decompose. All the government needs to do is to legislate on it and compel producers of the non-biodegradable plastic product to effect a change.
The introduction of biodegradable plastic in the country will not only preserve our environment, it will safeguard our soil and minimize flooding, especially in cities where flooding is caused by blocked drainages. The other step is for the authorities to curb indiscriminate dumping of plastic materials. Already, some states have outlawed this practice and made it a criminal offence. Offenders have to be prosecuted and punished under existing sanitation laws.
Since ‘pure water’ sachets can neither be buried nor incinerated, another means of adequately taking care of several millions of tonnage of sachets being produced and littered in the course of drinking from them is through the recycling process. This will provide a sustainable solution to the incessant blockages of drainages and other water channels with attendant flooding.
It will also lead to the achievement of clean and aesthetic environment through reduced indiscriminate littering/dumping of the sachets, reduction in