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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Experts clamour circular economy principles for effective plastic waste management

Strict enforcement of environmental law has been identified as the only means ensuring adequate preservation of the environment from greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and reduction of flooding, among others.

Plastic Circular Economy
Some participants at the UNIDO-LASEPA Plastic Circular Economy seminar in Lagos

Dr. Babatnnde Ajayi, General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), who made this call in his remarks during an awareness raising seminar on “Plastic Circular Economy in Lagos State”, also opined that “apart from that, it becomes an advocacy point, when people see that you shut down a place for flouting environmental laws, other people sit up and learn from it and be forced to adjust by doing the right thing”.

Speaking further, Dr. Ajayi declared war on the styrofoam plate that has always been constituting nuisance on the environment.

His words: “On the styrofoam plate ban, we have taken our stand and we have decided that we will go ahead with more advocacies followed by enforcement because if there is not strict enforcement, people will not stop making use of styrofoam plate which has been constituting nuisance to our environment.

“I think if we should attach a supply chain of styrofoam plate first of all, we confiscate everything in their stocks and all they produce, shut down their factories, the price of styrofoam plate will shoot-up compared to price of re-usable plastics, and this will force people to start embracing re-usable plastics the more.

“Some companies produce styrofoam plates from outside Lagos State especially from Ogun State and ship it into the state, if you go to Idumota for example you will see truckloads of people that supply them. By the time government swings into action by confiscating the items people will be forced to stop using styrofoam plates. By so doing we would have fulfilled a very key mandate of promoting circular economy that we all crave for. So, you reduce the waste, you reuse the waste, and you recycle the ones you are tired of using,” he reiterated.

In his submission, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, Managing Director, Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), also towed the line of the LASEPA by saying enforcement has always been the last option of LAWMA. According to him, enforcement is preceded by advocacy and sensitisation, which is always a continuous thing with the waste management outfit.

“In Lagos State as a whole, we have two classes of markets which are urban markets and traditional markets, majorly in traditional markets everyone wants to sell, and nobody takes ownership of the wastes generated, this has been a major source of problem for us especially talking about sustainability in Lagos State.

“We don’t just wake up in a day to say we are sealing up markets, we have procedures that we follow. For instance, when we notice wastes littering around the market, we serve them Abatement Notice this will afford the markets reasonable time to comply. After we do what we call Intention to Seal that means the infraction has become a recurring thing before we do Final Sealing.

“So, we follow these procedures to ensure that every market has waste bins either the big ones called Double Dino or the 1100 litres bin for Malls and Plazas, we also go there to teach them what we call a sustainable and waste management practice.

“Government is spending a lot of money on advocacy which is a major expenditure mark for us and we are not resting until everybody gets it right by taking ownership of their wastes, reduce what you don’t need by changing their consumption pattern, this is the bedrock of promoting sustainable waste management.

“For us in LAWMA, we are trickling everything down to all the 377 wards in Lagos State to ensure that the best waste management practices is imbibed at community level.” he stressed.

Ms. Jirinsola Olaleye, Assistant Director, LAWMA, in her submission while speaking on the strategies employed, highlighted the steps taken to ensure swift and adequate waste management in Lagos.

“We want to establish two recycling centres in both Yaba and Lekki Phase One, these centres will serve a dual purpose where you could walk in to drop your plastics and also serves as a collection centre where the recyclers come to your doorsteps to pick up the materials. The focus of centres is majorly on plastics.

“Talking about implementation and how we intend to achieve this, of course we talk of establishing a collation centre and we have not been able to identify any location along that axis so we will be working with all relevant agencies and of course the community and LCDAs to ensure that we site a recycling facility in this community. And of course, advocacy is something we must continuously do not forgetting capacity building.

“We are also going to be working with the informal sector by integrating the informal waste sweepers into the current waste practice because we know they are doing a lot but what we are doing in this instance is we are making it more decent for them. If you put collection centres within the local government, it reduces the distance they have to walk to drop off these materials and also, they can also work in the system where they work from door to door and connect your recyclers instead of having to litter everywhere.

“We are also going to be deploying technology for ease of waste collection. There are several technologies already introduced in waste management sector such as PAKAM, lots of other recyclers are also coming up with their own technologies. This will promote transparency which will afford you opportunity of seeing the materials you have already collected and determine the weight. To make this work, we are also incorporating the reward system people are actively participating and encourage into doing so.

“The site selection is ongoing, advocacy has commenced, the programme is a two-year programme, it is not a one-off thing, we are going to have advocacy pre and post. It is not enough for us to have that site; we are going to have a lot of sensitisations because the thing is we have different social strata so different campaign and sensitisation will appeal to different social strata.”

In her speech, Ms. Nahomi Nishio, Project Manager, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), while presenting a paper titled “Promoting Sustainable Plastic Value Chains Through Circular Economy Practices”, urged all concerned stakeholders to contribute to inclusive and sustainable industrial development of Nigeria by ensuring sustainable plastic management through circular economy practices and resource efficiency.

She stated: “Circular economy principles and practices are integrated into effective implementation of plastic waste management, and plastic value chains are strengthened, especially recycling capacity, so that the amount of plastic leaking to the environment will be reduced.”

The UNIDO Project Manager also advocated for constant trainings for waste management officials, informal pickers, companies including “train-the-trainers” as well as needs assessment for equipment and procurement such as scales, bailer machines, digital techs, push bikes among others.

Organised by UNIDO in collaboration with LASEPA, the seminar, held in Lagos on Thursday, December 7, 2023, under the UNIDO project titled: “Promoting Sustainable Plastic Value Chains Through Circular Economy Practices.”

The project aims to contribute to Nigeria’s inclusive and sustainable industrial development and reduce leakage of plastics to the environment through promotion of circular economy principles and practices, to be integrated into effective implementation of plastic waste management and strengthening plastic value chain.

It is also expected to demonstrate the benefit of adopting circular economy practices and resource efficient production for plastic value chains in Nigeria.

By Ajibola Adedoye

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