Fighting the continent’s waste problem

Nigeria announced a ban on single-use plastics in government offices this week, ahead of a nationwide ban due to begin in January. It joins the growing list of African countries aiming to tackle one of the world’s biggest pollution problems. Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest share of “uncontrolled” municipal solid waste disposal, at 87%, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Much of the waste generated in Africa, including plastics, is indiscriminately littered on dumpsites located near coastlines or burned in open fields. “The risks associated with these dumpsites are exacerbated by climate change,” says UNEP, referring to research that suggests such fires expose millions of people to “dangerous levels of pollutant emissions.”