By Bukar Bolori
The Federal Government has taken strident step on management of plastic waste in the country by inaugurating a Project Steering Committee (PSC) for Promotion of Sustainable Plastics Value Chains through Circular Economy Practices.
Speaking at the inauguration in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi said it is instructive that this is taking off at a time the attention of the global community is focused on negotiating the establishment of a legally binding instrument for the environmentally sound management of plastic throughout their entire lifecycle.
He said: “As you are all aware, misuse of plastic and poor management of its wastes pose danger to human health and the environment as they leach toxic chemical constituents such as endocrine disrupting chemicals which have been linked to infertility, diabetes, prostrate/breast cancer, into foods, drinks and the environment. Also tonnes of improperly disposed plastic wastes litter our streets, clog up drainages in rural and urban areas leading to flooding incidents as experienced in certain parts of the country recently, contaminate the soll affecting farmlands and livestocks, littering the oceans thereby threatening biodiversity and Increase greenhouse gas emissions when burnt indiscriminately.”
The Minister disclosed that it was in response to these challenges that the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with relevant stakeholders took steps to address the plastic issue holistically by adopting circular economy model, stressing that: “In this wise, we have developed the national policies on solid waste and plastic waste management to promote environmental protection, resource and energy efficiency, circular economy practices and enhance the conservation of natural resources through sustainable production and consumption and currently implementing community based waste management projects with emphasis on recycling.”
He said: “It might also interest you to know that the Government of Japan funded a study on available sustainable alternative materials for plastic, innovative packaging and recycling technologies that meet market needs in Africa to reduce plastic leakages to the environment, in Nigeria.
The study which was conducted in 2021, implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry revealed the following: Low level of recycling activities in the country; Only 45% of waste are collected ‣ 80% of plastic waste goes to dumpsite while only 10% is recycled; Alternative materials to plastics are yet to be introduced in the market and recognition of bioplastics is low, amongst others.”
He noted that: “It is against this backdrop that this project was developed to address these gaps and is being funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment.”
The Minister said: “To kick start the implementation of the project, this multi stakeholder Project Steering Committee was established to provide technical assistance and guidance to the project towards achieving the aims and objectives.
Membership of the Committee comprises of representatives from the following organizations: Federal Ministry of Environment (Co-chair); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) – Co-Chair; The Embassy of Japan in Nigeria – Guest Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment National Environmental Standards, Regulation and Enforcement Agency (NESREA); Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA); Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA); Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA); Waste Management Association of Nigeria (WAMASON).”
In his goodwill message, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi noted that the Steering Committee is to oversee the Plastic Circular economy project through monitoring the project’s implementation progress, validate its overall direction and the work plan, and assist in mobilizing resources required for project implementation where necessary.
He disclosed that the Plastic Circular economy project was built on the study results conducted in Nigeria, aims to contribute to Nigeria’s inclusive and sustainable industrial development and reduce leakage of plastics to the environment through promotion of Plastic Circular economy principles and practices to be integrated into effective implementation of plastic management and strengthening plastic value chains.
He noted that: “This is the first project in which UNIDO has applied the concept of Plastic Circular economy to support policy implementation on plastic waste management in Nigeria.
UNIDO has succeeded in bridging the gap between the diverse actors in Nigeria and Japan, and it is hoped that the knowledge and experience of UNIDO, Japan’s long- time development cooperation partner and the UN’s leading agency in the field of Plastic Circular economy, will be of use in the field of marine plastics.
“In addition to contributing to environmental conservation, this project is multifaceted and will contribute to economic growth by contributing to solving the problem of unemployment in the coastal areas, which is considered to be the root cause of the piracy problem: and promoting fisheries in the coastal areas by preserving the marine environment in the Gulf of Guinea. Through this project, Japan hopes to contribute to the enhancement of the value of the Gulf of Guinea, the development of the blue economy, and ultimately the prosperity of Nigeria.”
On his part, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Country Representative and Regional Director for West Africa, Mr. Jean Bakole said: “Plastic litter is a major global environmental problem. Its production was drastically increased by more than twenty-folds between 1964 and 2015, with an annual output of 322 million metric tonnes. This figure is expected to double by 2035 and quadruple by 2050 if no global action is taken.”
He noted that: “Over the years, the mismanagement of plastic waste is not only contaminating the land ecosystem but it is also being released into the marine environment, thereby polluting it and threatening the biodiversity while also negatively impacting the blue economy. “Mismanaged plastics and ineffective waste management is also a source of GHG emissions.
According to the World Bank, plastic waste accounts for 12% of the total amount of municipal solid wastes generated globally, however, only 14% are collected for recycling while only 9% are recycled.”
He said: “As the most populated nation with the largest GDP in the African continent, Nigeria’s plastic waste problem is on the increase, this is based on its increased consumption from 578,000 tonnes of plastics in 2007 to about 1,250,000 tonnes. Therefore, the per capita plastic consumption has grown by 5% annually from 4.0kg to 6.5kg respectively. It is estimated that each citizen would consume about 7.5kg of plastics per year.”