Message from the safety health and environment.

World environment day- 5 June 2018 

Today the United Nations together with over 100 countries celebrates World Environment Day. World environment Day was established by the United Nations 44 years ago on 05 June 1974 to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment.

World Environment Day provides an opportunity for individuals, organisations and governments to focus and take action on an environmental matter of concern. The focus this year is on the impact of plastics on the environment under the theme “Beating Plastic Pollution”

Did you know?

  • The United Nations estimates that since 1950 the world has produced 9 billion tonnes of plastic and only 9% thereof has been recycled.
  • The most common plastics found in the environment are mainly used plastic drinking bottles, food wraps, plastic bags, foam food containers, straws, cigarette butts, stirrers and plastic bottle caps.
  • The United Nations estimates that if human beings do not change their levels of plastic consumption and waste management habits, by 2050 there will be 50 billion tonnes of plastic waste in the environment.
  • Studies have shown that most plastics produced can take up to thousands of years to decompose.
  • Studies have shown that plastics disposed to land slowly break down into very small pieces known as microplastics that pollute the soil and water.
  • Different species consume plastic by mistake and plastic has been found in throats and stomachs of fish, birds, cattle, etc.
  • Studies have shown that table salt, bottled water and tap water contain plastic particles.
  • Illegal disposal of plastic also leads to blocked storm water pipes and blocked sewer lines.

What can we do?

We are dependent on plastics but we can beat plastic pollution if we all play our part. Plastic waste has value as it can be reused and recycled where possible.

At work

  • Where possible avoid the use of single use plastics such as plastic cutlery and crockery.
  • Purchase what you need.
  • Monitor the use of purchased items.
  • Control your stock. Use the first in first approach.
  • Use alternative materials that are non-plastic, durable and reusable.
  • Avoid excessive packaging of goods.
  • Upcycle items that have come to the end of their primary lives.
  • Check if products you are buying are recyclable before you buy.
  • Promote safe and environmentally friendly management of plastic waste.
  • Educate staff about the impact of plastic on the environment.

At home

  • Avoid the use of single use plastic bags.
  • Avoid the use of re-usable nappies, wet wipes, etc.
  • Use reusable containers made of stainless steel, glass and other non-plastic materials.
  • Know which plastics are recyclable.
  • Separate plastic waste from other waste in the house. Place the separated plastic waste on top of your bin on waste collection days for recyclers in your area.
  • Identify your local recyclers who can collect your recyclables from your home.
  • Take your plastic waste to a recyclables deposit facility or recycling facility.

It will not be possible or easy to remove all the plastic waste in the world but as humans we have a responsibility to minimize the impact of plastic on the environment for the benefit of current and future generations. We need to shift our thinking from “produce-use- dispose “to produce-use- re-use”.

To read about recycling and management of waste visit PlasticsSA

To view more about UN Environment campaigns or to register your #WorldEnvironmentDay activity click here