The Lagos State Government, on Tuesday, publicly presented a draft plastic waste policy before stakeholders, stating that the time has come to find a lasting solution to the harmful effects of plastic waste across the State.
Addressing participants at a one-day stakeholders’ workshop on the draft policy at LCCI Conference Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, emphasised the importance of stakeholder-input in shaping an effective and acceptable policy that will reduce the burden of plastic waste before enacting the policy.
He said the thrust of the policy will include implementing an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which would be aimed at drastically reducing the volume of plastic waste entering the waste stream by sorting at source.
According to him, plastics in the environment has been a global problem and man’s relationship with plastics has been shaped by various cultural, social and economic factors.
He said in Nigeria, the unregulated production of plastic waste is fueling a crisis in the country, adding that the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), posited that Nigerians are daily exposed to its threats found to include exposure to a chemical substance named dioxin.
Bello explained that ICIR also pointed out the inability of the Nigerian government to come up with an implementable policy on the management of plastic waste, thereby making dump sites the final destination of these non-biodegradable products which are set on fire.
While informing that the Federal Executive Council has, however, approved a plastic waste Management policy for the country, Bello stressed that issues of environmental management and protection are now concurrent issues based on the provision of section 20 of the Nigerian Constitution.
The Commissioner projected that Lagos generates the highest volume of plastic wastes in Nigeria based on the State’s contribution to the National GDP, its population as well as the standards of living and social status of residents.
“In quantifying the plastic composition of the total waste generated in the State, if we imagine an estimated Lagos population of over 20 million consuming one beverage bottle daily, this will give 365 containers per annum per person giving us a total of 7.3 billion plastic-packaged beverages consumed annually. The environmental footprint of the plastic waste generated from these could better be imagined”, he said.
Noting that the government had previously implemented various schemes to curb the plastic waste burden without the desired results, the Commissioner emphasised that the thrust of the new policy would also ensure recyclable waste packaging as an incentive to participants returning the waste to designated refund points, while creating a circular economy for recycling of single-use plastics.
Earlier in her address, Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Mrs. Belinda Odeneye said waste has been identified as one of the most pressing environmental issues confronting the State Government and indeed, the world at large.
She said the booming population of Lagos State which, in turn, increases the demand for plastics and plastic packaged products are factors responsible for the continuous rise in the generation of plastic waste with accompanying environmental pollution such as blocked drainages, flooding, and contamination of waterways, amongst others.
The event was attended by dignitaries including Permanent Secretary, Office of Drainage Services, Engr. Lekan Shodeinde; Managing Director, LAWMA, Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni; members of the Recyclers Association of Nigeria as well as Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, among others.