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How Nigeria can benefit from 2 billion-tonne global wastes, by experts

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Experts has said for Nigeria to benefit from the two billion global wastes, the government must ensure rapid investment in clean and renewable energy, saying the country must begin to think circularly to regain waste as a resource.

These thoughts were expressed during the last of four sustainability webinar series by Lafarge Africa, which focused on, “Roadmaps to progressing the SDGs: Opportunities in the circular economy and science technology, engineering and mathematics.”

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Corporate and Regional Head, Geocycle, Anxel Pieters, said two billion tonnes of wastes are produced globally every year, and that presently only 90 per cent is treated, and the non-treated linearly goes into a landfill and sometimes into a waste incinerator, which is not too safe.

He said while only 10 per cent goes into a more circular approach, about 90 per cent of the waste can actually be circularly treated. “Waste is a very important chain into the circular economy, and in also preserving our earth. We are polluting the ocean with 12 million tonnes of plastic in a year, which is a waste; actually it should be a resource.”

He said with the increases in population, and urbanisation, with people living close together. “We see it everywhere in the world, and in Nigeria where more people live in the city, producing more waste. So, it becomes an accelerating scenario where things get out of control, and I think we are close to a situation where we have to take a circular approach to save the earth from polluting by having cleaner air, cleaner soil, cleaner rivers and cleaner oceans.”

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He said the mature markets in the world where environmental protection is at a higher level has brought a lot of businesses, a lot of employment for people, noting that jobs can be created from effective waste management.

He argued that it would be better to spend money on circular waste management now to have enduring long term effect than to use the short term approach of dumping wastes in the river and ocean and cause problems in the future.

Discussing clean energy, Chief Operating Officer, Oando Energy Resources, Dr. Ainojie Alex Irune, advised a shift from the use of fossil fuel in generating electricity, as it is becoming increasingly cheaper to do so with solar.

Irune said presently, it looks cheaper to produce energy with fossil fuel/gas than solar, because “based on the projections we have seen, looking back from 2010 to date, solar energy prices have come down 60 per cent, and if we look into the future, there will be further decrease in that energy as it becomes common.”

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He advised that Nigeria should use proceeds from oil and gas to drive diversification and investments that would create the circular economy, while encouraging investment in this area “through policy frameworks that we can borrow from other countries.”

Managing Director, Peugeot Automobile Limited, Tanko Ibrahim, who discussed infrastructure and the economy, noted that low budget and poor implementation hamper the development of infrastructure, which industries, particularly MSMEs in the informal sector, which constitute about 96 per cent of the businesses in Nigeria.

Ibrahim called for skills development in the education curriculum, stressing the need to set up public-private-partnerships (PPPs) to take some of the pressure off the government to provide better provision of infrastructure in Nigeria.

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Speaking on, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Prof Aliyu Jauro, said EPR is a framework where “manufacturers, producers, importers, retailers of any item is saddled with the responsibility of taking back that item at the end of its life so that we have a very sound environmental treatment of that material. So, instead of the normal disposal of that item, they are obliged to take it back at the end of its life.”

Jauro said the EPR programme is presently being implemented across all the sectors by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), adding that the government’s role is to ensure that the programme is implemented correctly.

“The EPR is an effective waste management programme. It has taken off the burden of waste management from the government. The EPR promotes circular economy, and by this, the five tasks in the waste hierarchy – reduce, reuse, repair, recover and recycle in the value chain are being implemented with the EPR programme.”

He said it would also change the linear waste method “where we have production, consumption and disposal, and we are changing to the circular model where it enters production, consumption and recycling.”

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