Plastic bag wastes pose serious environmental pollutions and health problems in humans and animals. The situation is worsened in economically disadvantaged countries like Ethiopia. The objective of this survey was to assess usage of plastic bags and their environmental impacts in Jimma City of Ethiopia. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 230 randomly selected respondents. The results indicated that the larger proportion (176, 76.52%) of the respondents used plastic bags more frequently than any other plastic products regardless of their age, occupation, and economic and educational status. Low price (159, 69.13%) and easy availability (152, 66.08%) were the main reasons for the widespread utilization of these products. Among the practices used for disposal of plastic bag wastes, open dumping to surrounding areas (137, 59.56%) was a practice widely used by almost all the residents of the city. Some of the major problems were animal death (167, 72.60%), blockage of sewage lines (162, 70.43%), deterioration of natural beauty of an environment (144, 62.60%) and human health problems (119, 51.73%). The findings of the present study also indicated that the trend of utilization of plastic bags is increasing from time to time in spite of a good deal of awareness of the residents about the adverse effects of these products. In order to reduce the problems associated with plastic bag wastes, it is recommended to educate the public (1) not to use plastic bags, and (2) to use eco-friendly alternative materials (bags) made from clothes, natural fibers and paper. City level legislation is also highly recommended against indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic bag wastes as well as to end free distribution of plastic bags by retailers.
Key words: Plastic waste, Jimma, plastic bags, environmental pollution, plastic bag waste, plastic products, waste disposal, flying toilets, plastic bag ban.
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