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Stakeholders seek ban of single-use plastic by 2024

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
06 March 2023   |   4:04 am
Members of the Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives (GAIA) Nigeria have urged the Federal Government to ban single-use plastic in the country.

Plastic harming the environment.

Members of the Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives (GAIA) Nigeria have urged the Federal Government to ban single-use plastic in the country.

They said the ban should take effect in 2024 as opposed to the current 2028 date as contained in the proposed national policy on plastic waste management, starting with styrofoam, microbeads, carrier bags, plastic spoons, straws, and disposable cups, as they have no economic value (recycling) potential.

The groups further called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on plastic production and its chemical constituent transparency.

They met at a two-day workshop with the theme: “Civil Society Organisations’ Engagement with National and International Plastic Policy Processes,” in Lagos, which drew national and international stakeholders from the value chain of plastic policy processes.

Participants included Lagos State Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), civil society organisations, experts, trade associations and media, to deliberate on national and international plastic policy processes.

GAIA Nigeria members include the Centre for Earth Works (CFEW), Green Knowledge Foundation (GKF), Pan African Vision for the Environment (PAVE), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Community Action Against Plastic Waste (CAPws), Sustainable Environmental Development Initiative (SEDI), Policy Alert, the Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF) and Lekeh Development Foundation (LDF).

The objectives of the workshop were to connect the various GAIA Nigeria members in the country; exchange knowledge on zero waste, incinerator alternatives and crystallise ideas on the way forward as Nigeria plays a pivotal role in Africa’s waste management practices.

The participants urged the Federal Government to avoid the adoption of waste- to-energy technologies such as municipal waste Incinerators and chemical recycling facilities. These are false solutions, as they enable the unsustainable consumption of resources, contribute to climate change, release a cocktail of noxious substances that pose hazards to public health, and diverts funds from cheaper, sustainable zero-waste solutions.

The stakeholders agreed that all national and state plastic policies should incorporate zero waste principles, taking into account an entire lifecycle approach to plastic management and non-recyclable materials. There is need for a nationwide campaign and capacity development of policymakers on the toxicity of plastic within the plastic value chain in the country.

They observed the challenge of plastic waste and its increasing global and national concerns, as well as its attendant public and environmental health implications.

Whereas waste reduction is key to having zero waste, this concept is not yet fully mainstreamed into national and state waste policy processes.

“Plastic is mainly carbon and chemical based, however, there is a huge knowledge gap in understanding the toxic chemical components in Nigeria. These hazardous substances are easily transferred into the food chain and other environmental media,” they said.

According to them, during the last Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC), the Nigerian representation was not formidable. “There is a paucity of information and data on the volume and chemical constituent of plastic in the Nigerian market.

“There is a plastic waste regulation ongoing; however, the existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework is weak and incapable of addressing the current plastic waste management challenges. The National Association of Scraps and Waste Pickers Association exists at an informal level, they require recognition and integration in the waste management sector,” the groups said.

The participants noted that Africa is seeing the increasing emergence of waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration projects. “WTE is frequently presented to municipalities as a silver bullet solution to their waste problems. Waste generation is intrinsically linked to climate change and there is a lack of urgency from African leaders on sustainable ways to manage plastic and organic waste. Evidence has shown that Green House Gases (GHG) emissions will dramatically increase if plastic production continues as projected and waste is burned.

“The involvement of waste pickers in the waste management sector is an effective and inclusive approach to addressing climate change in Africa. The informal waste sector is responsible for up to 50 per cent of waste collection and 45 per cent of recycling in low-income countries like Nigeria. The informal waste sector in this case includes waste pickers, collectors, recyclers and aggregators,” the participants added.