For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

Nigeria Plastic Situation Threat To Life Says Group

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

A Civil Society Organisation, the Center for Earth Works, CFEW, and a member of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, GAIA, has described Nigeria’s plastic pollution as one of its gravest environmental challenges.

The Founder of CFEW, Benson Dotun Fasanya who raised the alarm while briefing Newsmen on the sidelines of the post-Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, INC,  2,  debrief held on Tuesday, August 1, in Abuja, said the Nigerian plastic pollution scenario can only be described as a “Plastic Tsunami”.

EarthNews Nigeria Media reports that the INC is a five-part process started in Uruguay in 2022. The second was held. May 2023 while the post-INC debrief is aimed at drafting recommendations in preparation for the INC 3, to hold December 2023 in Nairobi.

According to Fasanya “Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the gravest environmental challenges of our time, transcending borders and affecting every corner of the world. He added that  Plastics, being persistent, toxic, and non-biodegradable, accumulate in our oceans, soils, and air, posing a severe threat to marine life, biodiversity, and human well-being. 

Fasanya added that “Every second over 60,000 plastic bags are discarded all around the world. Nigerians discard an average of 600 million water sachets per day and this amounts to about 215 billion plastic Sachets annually.

GAIA in their recommendations are advocating a Just Transition for Identification, Transparency, and Labeling, Reduction in Overall Production of Plastics to close the plastic tap, Ensuring Environmentally Just and Sound Waste Management, Prevention of the importation of plastic pollution and its associated toxic burden.

They are further calling on the Nigerian government to implement a comprehensive plastics trade tracking system. Encourage research and strong policy implementation and to phase out single-use plastics all within the framework of the Global Plastic Treaty which is aimed at developing a globally legally binding  plastic treaty to solve the plastic pollution crises

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development, STRADev, Dr Leslie Adogame said people do not understand the impact of plastic in this part of the world as they tend to see plastic challenges, from the physical nuisance perspective.

“He noted that a major challenge of plastic pollution is that plastic which is the subject matter which the global community is looking at has different dimensions.”It has the social economic dimension, environmental dimension as well as public health dimension. So a major challenge is to communicate these various challenges, to have an intersection of a clear understanding of how these various intersections can work together.

“Dr. Adogame maintained that the Nigerian government is responding positively in line with the global movement. The Federal Ministry of Environment which is the focal point for solid, plastic waste is participating in the global discussions, and efforts are also ongoing to walk the talk, in terms of drafting regulations that would help control the menace.

Meanwhile, GAIA Clean Energy Campaigner WEYINMI OKOTIE  while calling on the government to immediately implement a ban on single-use plastics said our problems are not the plastics in themselves but the single-use and dump.

“We are also urging the government to pay attention to the recommendations we are proposing to reduce production so that it does not overwhelm us

Okotie recalled that decades back, people enjoyed beverages without single-use plastics and these brands remain the best.  He noted that while tins and cans have reusable values and are easy to recycle with good value chains, plastics are on the other hand cheap and have lower recycle values.

Another of the campaigners, Ahmed Tiamiyu of the Community Action Against Plastic Waste, CAPws, said the magnitude of plastic waste in Nigeria is overwhelming.

“Nigeria currently does not have updated data on the amount of plastic waste. Quoting the Guardian, Mr Tiamiyu said ” Only Lagos state, generates 9000-13000kg of solid waste per day. And from 2019- till date, there are about 34000 tonnes of solid waste Nigeria generates annually, making Nigeria one of the biggest plastic waste generators in the world.”

“For us as public interest organizations, our priority is public health. Plastic waste is threatening our public health. A lot of time people may not be able to relate this directly, but indirectly, plastic is in the air, in our food and water”.

“Plastics are products of petrochemicals but are carbons and chemicals and around 7000 of the chemicals used according to a report by UNEP, are highly hazardous. Many of them are endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic, growth retardants in children.  They affect our immunity and reduce sexual prowess and these are major problems with plastics, they are threatening our public health which is why this advocacy needs to be on the top of our agenda.

Our recommendations are for governments to set global reduction targets, by making it mandatory for producers to be transparent in labeling their products and also replace hazardous ones. We also call on governments at both local and international levels to ensure dedicated and accessible multilateral funding for managing plastic as well as ensuring just transitions by empowering the middlemen who walk long distances to ensure they benefit from these initiatives.

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