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A Call to End Plastic Use in Cameroon

Officials in Cameroon say plastic bag pollution in the country has doubled in the past four years to 600,000 tons, harming the environment and animal and human health. Cameroon’s ministries of trade and the environment say caravans were dispatched to markets in the central African state as part of activities marking International Plastic Bag Free Day celebrated annually on July 3. The central African country in 2012 banned the production, sale, and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags, but huge quantities are smuggled in from neighboring Nigeria. The government acknowledges the packaging materials it is producing do not meet national needs yet and is encouraging civilians to use leaves. Florence Tumasang is a doctor with the Cameroon Baptist Convention’s health services agency. She said plant leaves are biodegradable, and enriched with antioxidants, whereas plastic bags are dangerous to health and the environment. Many people in Cameroon use paper bags as well, but some argue that paper bags are not as good at conserving cooked food. In 2012, Cameroon banned the use of non-biodegradable plastic packaging on the grounds they clog waterways, spoil the landscape, and take a thousand years to break down. When they do degrade, they break into particles that pollute the soil and water.