Angola President João Lourenço has formed a working group to draft a national plan to ban plastics to address environmental degradation and regulate the production and use of non-biodegradable products.
In a presidential order, quoted by state-owned Jornal de Angola, Mr Lourenço states that there are “worrying levels of pollution resulting from the use of plastics in general”.
Angola, with a 1,600-kilometre coastline, has no policy in place to restrict the use of plastic.
The UN says more than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by plastics pollution through ingestion and entanglement, while around 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flows into the ocean annually. The UN warns that this could triple by 2040.
The multidisciplinary working group includes heads of Environment, Economy and Planning, Territorial Administration, Education and Telecommunications, Information Technology and Media dockets, coordinated by the Minister of State in the office of the President.
Others are representatives from business associations, academia and environmentalists.
Plastic is one of the most devastating elements for the environment but with a tragic impact on the African continent.
Last year, the head of the National Solid Waste Agency said that a total of 12.4 million plastic bags are distributed free of charge every day in Angola in commercial exchanges.
Mr Monteiro Lumbo, who disclosed the figure after a survey, added that the bags were dire consequences on public health and the environment.
The plastics choke drainage systems causing floods during the rainy season, Mr Lumbi said as an example.
“If we are not careful, plastic pollution in Angola will take on alarming proportions. This issue should be declared a public health problem throughout the country,” Helena Neketela, an environmentalist, told The EastAfrican in a phone interview.
“The government should impose heavy taxes on plastic importers, replace plastics with other biodegradable materials and have plastic recycling plants throughout the country,” Ms Neketela proposed, adding that out of the 18 provinces, only the capital Luanda has a plastic recycling plant.
Plastic pollution is a global concern, with the UN warning that it has grown into an epidemic.
According to the UN Environment Programme, plastic pollution soared from two million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at $522.6 billion. It is expected to double in capacity by 2040.
In March, heads of State, environment ministers and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi to end plastic pollution, and forge an international legally binding agreement, by the end of 2024.