‘An Elephant in the room’ – Plastic Waste a hindrance to Sustainable tourism.

Diana Kibuuka

The 8th Pearl Of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE2024), at Speke Resort Munyonyo has had its emphasis on ‘Responsible Tourism’, putting environmental protection among other sustainable aspects at the forefront.

During the Stakeholder Engagement Cocktail for POATE 2024 Sponsors at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, on April 9th, 2024, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Tourism Board Lilly Ajarova explained that, sustainability includes fostering growth, ensuring future viability, preserving flora and fauna, sustaining businesses, and enhancing the well-being of the population.

The over 200 exhibitors, many of which are local based, different eco-friendly products are showcased, in addition to those that presented solutions to waste, which is among the key challenges of sustainable tourism – Other challenges include; defining and measuring sustainable tourism, Carbon dioxide emissions, water consumption, landscape degradation, and biodiversity loss.

‘An Elephant in the room’ sculpture made out of discarded motorcycle helmets and scrap metals, was one of the outstanding outdoor exhibits, at POATE 24.

According to Reagan Kandole the Director ECOaction, who in collaboration with students of Art and Design Kyambogo University, Toten Folk College, Norway and Safe Boda, raised this sculpture, in April this year, 2024, they aimed at creating awareness about an environmental problem of waste, to protect nature and the vulnerable animal species.  

Kandole says, there’s a double message in this sculpture; protecting nature through ‘protective helmets’ and fighting the waste – the elephant in the room.

An enormous topic or controversial issue that is obvious but no one mentions it because, it makes them uncomfortable or is personally embarrassing, controversial, inflammatory or dangerous – It’s about time we address the elephant in the room. Emphasizes Kandole.

Looking the helmets, these are representation of the many plastics wastes that are eating up the earth right from the oceans to land. Different research shows that over 460 million metric tons of plastic are produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications – And an estimate of 20 million metric tons of plastic litter end up in the environment every year. That amount is expected to increase significantly by 2040 if the trend continues as it is.

UWEC Waste management exhibition at POATE 2024

What can be done?

To address plastic pollution globally, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) asserts that; there must be ambitious reductions in plastic production, phasing out harmful subsidies, eliminating products and chemicals of concern, agreeing on the adoption of strong national plans, reporting requirements, compliance mechanisms, enhance national legislation and capabilities to address plastic pollution, reporting, and compliance, support for nature-positive Extended Producer Responsibility Systems that go beyond waste management, and funding a strong financing mechanism, for capacity building.

Despite positive efforts from countries to tackle plastic pollution, such as bans on certain forms of single-use plastics, a global plastics treaty is essential because plastic pollution is trans-boundary.

Which material is used to make a helmet?

The most visible part of the helmet is the outer shell that either comes in shiny or matte finishes. The outer shell is usually made of hard polycarbonate plastic or other manmade fibres such as kevlar or carbon fibre. depending on the type of material used, for the price of the helmet may vary from one to another.

World Market Helmet demand

The research and analysis included in the ‘Motorcycle Helmet Market Research Report’, indicates that the global Motorcycle Helmet market size was valued at USD 2639.78 Million in 2022 and will reach USD 3374.92 Million in 2028, with      North America (United States, Canada and Mexico), Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia and Turkey), and Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam), as the leading production regions.

For Eco-friendly products, international companies like Urge Bike Products, have come up with an Eco-friendly helmet, through recycled and/or sustainable ingredients, which is helping them increase their use of renewable power supplies and at the same time, manage to reduce their use of fossil fuels and decreased their need for virgin plastic.

Their helmets are made of 80% recycled materials, straps are made of PET from recycled plastic bottles, helmet shells are made of EPS (expandable polystyrene) recycled from automotive industry waste.

Eco-Friendly Helmet Composition:

Hard Shell• Water based paint • Re-grinded materials mix
In-mold Helmets• UV inks • Recycled PVC • Water based paint
Packaging• FSC colour box: forest managed in a way that preserve biological diversity • Organic inks for manuals • Biodegradable and compostable corn bags
Helmet Liner• Recycled EPS
Non-Functional Plastic Parts• 100% recycled material • Ocean plastics
Straps• Recycled PET water bottles
Fit Pads• Bamboo fibre • ECO nylon  
Source; Urge Bike Products

About The Author

Diana Kibuuka

Diana Kibuuka is an Environment and Climate Change female journalist from Uganda. She's also running a Climate Change Podcast; Dina;s planet: https://dinasplanet.buzzsprout.com and and Climate change blog;https://africanjournalistsgreenisland.org/

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