….express worry over present effects of plastic pollution
….want total end to use of single-use plastics by companies
By Gabriel Ewepu
AS various environmental issues continue to ravage the world giving rise to climate change and global warming, a group called Civil Society Consortium on Plastic and Environmental Management (COPEM) Civil Society Organisations, weekend, called on Federal Government to ban indiscriminate dumping of plastic materials in Nigeria.
This was part of the resolve of COPEM in partnership with Participatory Peace Initiative, PPI, Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre, ENVIRUMEDIC, and One Love Community Development, OLCD, at a one day sensitization workshop with press briefing on ‘Menace of Plastic Waste in Nigeria’s Fragile Environment’.
The forum had 25 CSOs in attendance to strategise and fashion out new ways to fight indiscriminate generation and dumping of plastic wastes, provide lasting and sustainable solutions.
Some of the demands by the CSOs include a strong political will among our leaders and the government’s sincerity in addressing environmental issues such as plastic waste disposal; With the current pandemic, there must be a united plan in mitigating these problems by disallowing the funding of dirty energy projects like waste-to-energy incinerators which endanger the health of citizens due to the release of harmful greenhouse gases, and poisonous chemicals such as dioxins and furans; The government should pursue solutions that genuinely protect and preserve the constitutional rights to health and a balanced and healthful ecology; Government should initiate a concerted efforts to coordinate together various laws, policies and international conventions/agreements to managing plastic waste.
The statement reads in part, “The Consortium calls on the Government to provide a legal and policy framework to sustainably manage the Nigeria plastic waste and phase out single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam and to ensure that all plastic packaging in the market is recyclable or biodegradable by 2030.”
According to Executive Director Participatory Peace Initiative and member of COPEM, Deacon Matthew Okwaje, an estimation of 500 billion plastic bags is used on a global scale. This has an extremely detrimental effect on the environment, wildlife, and quality of human life indeed.
“Plastic Materials are a major problem in today’s generation. It remains in our environment for hundreds of years and pollute our lands, waters and the very air we breathe, plastic have become a threat in our mother nature including mankind, wild life, and mostly, marine life.
“It is spreading like a disease that has no cure. Humans should realize the impacts of plastic pollution so that all of us can avoid and prevent the consequences of our actions.
“Everywhere you see has plastic on it including your appliances in your home, your school supplies, and even the plates and cups that you use for eating. Plastics are non-biodegradable synthetic organic compounds that are malleable”, Okwaje said.
Also speaking on the menace of and effects of plastic waste on the environment, the Chief Executive Director, Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre and member of COPEM, Chief Monday Ogheneruona Itoghor, pointed that Government needs to be more aggressive, responsive and promote genuine solutions to curb plastic production and consumption.
According to Itoghor Nigeria alone generates 35 million tonnes of municipalsolid waste annually as reported by Lagos Waste Management Agency, LAWMA, which 10 to 15 per cent is basically plastic materials.
The ENVIRUMEDIC boss also emphasized that the worrisome problem on the environment is becoming disastrous as growing environmental problems have become a major threat to health of Nigerians, hence government is to find effective solutions as the issues demand urgency.
However, he pointed out that there are major challenges confronting recycling interventions in Nigeria including lack of public awareness about the recycling value chain; inadequate collection infrastructure especially in remote locations; high cost of logistics; lack of finance; and inadequate implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Programme, a policy placing responsibility on producers to manage the lifecycle of their products.
“In other words, government should mainstream the above mentioned challenges in any policy framework for sustainable plastic waste solutions”, he stated.
Another stakeholder, the Executive Director, One Love Community Development, OLCD, Dr Agboro Andrew, acknowledged that Nigeria was the fourth nation to key into the Davos Agenda and signed on to launch a National Plastic Action Partnership, NPAP, but no action taken.
“We will be delighted to see that government fast track a fantastic national effort against plastic pollution.
“What Nigerians need are real and urgent solutions to this plastic crisis. We can no longer afford any more excuses and delays. While individuals and Local Government Units are doing their part, the state needs to make efforts by passing a comprehensive law banning single-use plastics. This policy will significantly advance other local efforts to preserve and protect our environment”, Andrew said.
He further advocated that the use of delivery systems such as refilling stations and other workable community-based solutions to tackle use throwaway business models that currently dominate the market; pass a comprehensive Single-Use Plastic Ban as an essential policy tool to stop plastic pollution by shifting corporate dependence on throwaway packaging models to more sustainable reuse and refill systems.