“A monumental task”: Greenpeace urges Nigeria to incentivize single-use plastic alternatives to enforce ban
25 Jan 2024 — Nigeria’s Lagos state government announced an immediate ban on using and distributing styrofoam and other single-use plastics in the state to address the environmental threat that non-biodegradable materials pose. While Greenpeace lauds the move, it suggests incentives and policies to drive the ban to success.
Greenpeace Africa’s pan-African plastic project lead, Hellen Kahaso Dena, praises Lagos State for taking this step: “This is a positive signal that Nigeria is committed to addressing critical environmental issues and contributing to a sustainable future alongside other African nations.”
“Plastics significantly contribute to the triple planetary crisis — climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. Plastic pollution is a serious global threat that harms human health and the planet and is more profound in less wealthy nations where waste management systems are inefficient or scarce.”
While commending the decision, Dena warns that enforcing the ban and reversing existing damage would be a monumental task. “We urge the Lagos state government to not only enforce the ban effectively but also to strengthen policies and regulations concerning plastics,” she stresses.
“We call upon the government to incentivize producers to adopt affordable, sustainable alternatives to styrofoam and other single-use plastics. Only by providing support can the government make sustainable alternatives to the popular but harmful products that people rely on every day.”
Street vendors and markets in Lagos often use styrofoam containers for food, which have been associated with health risks for consumers.The environmental organization underscores that street vendors and markets in Lagos often use styrofoam containers for food and fresh produce packaging, which have been associated with health risks for consumers and inadequate disposal has choked the city with littered roads and blocked drains, increasing flood risks and threats to biodiversity.
Lagos’ Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, stresses the daily clogging of drainage channels in the state due to the indiscriminate distribution and usage of styrofoam despite regular cleaning efforts. The commissioner directed the responsible state agencies to commence the swift implementation of the ban and clamp down on production companies and distribution outlets for styrofoam to prevent further distribution.
According to local media, producers, distributors and end-users of styrofoam packs were sternly advised to take the ban seriously or face heavy fines and penalties, including sealing their premises.
Addressing the economic concerns raised by some business owners, Wahab has been quoted as saying: “Our state cannot be held hostage to the economic interests of a few wealthy business owners, compared to the millions of Lagosians suffering the consequences of indiscriminate dumping of single-use plastics and other types of waste.”
Furthermore, the commissioner urged consumers and residents to actively boycott styrofoam packs and single-use plastics, encouraging the adoption of reusable food containers and water bottles as a sustainable alternative.
By Radhika Sikaria
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