The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has commended the Lagos State Government for banning the use and distribution of Styrofoam and other single-use plastics.
CAPPA, however, urged the government to ensure adequate stakeholder engagement and incentives for alternatives, in the light of the potential economic impact of the ban.
In a statement made available to journalists by Media and Communication Officer of CAPPA, Robert Egbe, the transparency watchdog gave the advice while reacting to an announcement by the state Commissioner of Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab on January 21, 2024, that the ban is with immediate effect.
CAPPA noted that single-use plastics (SUP) contribute heavily to environmental degradation globally. It further observed that Nigeria faces serious challenges with SUP waste, generating tons of garbage, especially in densely populated cities such as Lagos. This waste, which takes years to decompose, is often dumped in drainages and water bodies, or ends up in landfills and as unregulated waste in the environment, thereby leading to clogged ecosystems and pollution that cause irreparable damage to public health and marine life.
The group added that it is on record that about 60 million plastic sachet water bags are consumed and disposed of daily in Nigeria, with Lagos topping the list. The state also generates about 870,000 tons of plastic products ranging from drinks bottles, packs of sachet water and plastic bags annually from the combined total of 2.7 million tons generated across the country.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi applauded the immediate order given to the State’s Waste Management Authority and the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) to enforce the ban, adding that fair enforcement should be prioritised.
Oluwafemi said: “Enforcement is where the problem lies. But with this clear mandate, we are getting closer to our shared goal of mitigating the adverse effects of unsustainable plastic production on our oceans, climate, biodiversity, health and human right to a liveable environment.
“While heavy fines, seal of business premises, and clean up obligations by defaulters could serve as instructive penalties, the government must be mindful and guide against conflict of interest and selective enforcement in the interest of fairness and equity as plastics are products of fossil fuel enterprise, a sector that is long dominated by big corporations and powerful individuals who have often acted as though they are above the law.”
The NGO said while the ban gives a clue about the state government’s stance on critical issues like plastics control, a clear policy document or framework is essential for effective monitoring of the progress of the ban. The organization also urged the government to foster a comprehensive waste management system and create an enabling environment that encourages the recycling of waste materials and easy transition of citizens from SUPs to greener and more sustainable alternatives.
Also speaking, Programme Manager of CAPPA, Ogunlade Olamide said: “Drawing from the principles of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), which is the only international treaty that offers a governance model for addressing the disproportionate influence by commercial actors, government should also recognize cigarette filters as some of the most problematic and avoidable plastic products and include it on the ban list as they contribute immensely to marine alteration.”