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Experts differ over FG’s 10% tax on single-use plastics

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
08 May 2023   |   3:06 am
Ahead of Federal Government’s proposed ban on plastics (SUP) by 2028, the authorities have imposed a 10 per cent tax on the products.


Ahead of Federal Government’s proposed ban on plastics (SUP) by 2028, the authorities have imposed a 10 per cent tax on the products.

Single-use plastics, often also referred to as disposable plastics, are commonly used for packaging. It includes items used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

They also include, items such as nylon carriage bags, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.

Managing Nigeria’s plastic waste crisis has remained a thorny issue. The National Policy on Plastic Waste Management aims to reduce plastic waste generation in the environment by 50 per cent of its baseline figure of 2020 by 2025, to phase out single-use plastic bags and styrofoam by 2028, and to ensure that all plastic packaging in the market is recyclable or biodegradable by 2030.

The Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) estimate that Nigeria generates 35 million tonnes of municipal solid waste yearly, out of which 10 to 15 per cent are plastics.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP’s) recent report from Pollution to Solution shows there is currently between 75 to 199 million tonnes of plastic waste in the ocean, and in 2016 some nine to 14 tonnes of waste entered the aquatic ecosystem.

It is estimated that by 2040, this will have almost tripled to 23 to 37 million tonnes per year. Plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent of marine litter, accounting for at least 85 per cent of all marine waste.

Speaking on the new tax, a retired Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Chairman, the Centre for Environmental Human Resources Development, University of Lagos, Babajide Alao, told The Guardian “Whatever we can do to cut off single-use plastic will better humanity and physical environment.”

He said the policy would increase costs of goods and hope that people are going to stop using single-use plastics, while utilising paper bags that are biodegradable.

He said the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has already set up a committee to regulate single use plastics. He said negotiations are also ongoing globally to prohibit single-use plastics as municipal wastes are overloaded with them.

The Executive Director, of Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria), Dr. Leslie Adogame, said the tax would encourage a continued production of SUP. “Evidences around Africa on countries that are implementing a tax based approach shows that management of SUP remain a challenge, as SUP production or import will increase.

“ NESREA is currently supported by European Union(EU) to develop a national plastic waste regulation and control for Nigeria, the issue SUP will be addressed by national stakeholders and regulation in the coming weeks.”

He said precautionary principle needs to be put in place until transparency by the industry is assured. “Currently, with lack of sufficient data and transparency of the sector, taxation would not be the best way to go since the chance of passing the ultimate cost to consumers cannot be guaranteed.

“Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) framework and guidelines need to be fully instituted before a taxation regime can be sustained,” Adogame, who is also the National Consultant to EU-NESREA, said.

A group of civil society under the aegis of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Nigeria has also called on the Federal Government to ban single-use plastics with effect from year 2024 as against the current 2028 date contained in the proposed National Policy on Plastic Waste Management.

However, the Polymer Institute of Nigeria (PIN), has described the move by the National Assembly to ban single-use plastics in Nigeria as a “lazy man’s approach” to the climate emergency.

PIN President, Prof. Paul Mamza, said: “It is no more secret that the management of polymer wastes, especially plastic waste, has been a recurring decimal in the national discourse.

“With some politicians and public analyst seeking for outright ban on plastics in Nigeria without appropriately reasoned scientific and technological analyses of ramifications and impact of such decision on the national industrial development.

“This is worrisome because in some countries like Singapore, plastic wastes are used to generate power, considering the outright banning of single-use plastics is a lazy man’s approach.”

According to him, while single-use plastics constitute environmental hazards, outright banning is not the solution where plastic waste can be used for much-needed revenue generation and diversification.

“The government rather than ban should engage the polymer professionals in finding ways of disposing plastics which is environmentally friendly and utilisation of wastes to generate wealth.

“There is huge revenue potential in polymer wastes and the ban of single-use is not a viable solution for a technological advanced country like ours.”
Nigeria delegation at the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions holding in Geneva, Switzerland