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why it’s good and how it can work

Two weeks into January 2024, Nigerian government took steps to curb environmental degradation led to by means of plastic air pollution within the nation.

The Federal Ministry of Environment and the Lagos State executive each introduced bans on single-use plastics.

The Federal Ministry of Setting was once the primary to factor a directive. It banned single-use plastics in its personal departments and businesses. The Lagos State executive adopted a couple of days later with a ban on styrofoam bins (popularly used for meals packaging) and gave companies 3 weeks to mop up styrofoam in stream.

The Abia State executive within the south-east adopted with its personal ban on single-use plastics, introduced on 27 January.

Nigeria generates over the top quantities of plastic waste, just about 90% of which is mismanaged.

As an environmental toxicologist, I argue that there’s sufficient analysis proof appearing the antagonistic results of plastic waste at the atmosphere – in addition to doable hurt to folks – to improve the ban. As a member of the Metrics Process Drive of the Nigeria National Plastic Action Plan, amongst others, I’ve been a part of a number of stakeholder engagements since 2022 around the plastic waste worth chain, contributing to the proof at the severity of the plastic waste threat in Nigeria.

The problem might be implementation. Nigeria has had a legislation within the pipeline banning single-use plastics since 2013. It has nonetheless now not been promulgated on the nationwide stage.

Nonetheless, the hot bans are being introduced with pledges of stringent implementation.

To make it paintings this time, Nigeria may just be informed from different international locations like Rwanda that experience issued an identical bans. It is usually essential to imagine reasonably priced possible choices and the human and fiscal sources which are had to put in force the ban.

Why banning single-use plastics is essential

Nigeria has been slightly gradual to take on plastic air pollution. That is in spite of analysis documenting the level of plastic waste within the atmosphere, which has caused air pollution of rivers and water our bodies and decreased fish populations.

We carried out a review of about 40 research, most commonly in south-western Nigeria, that documented the assets and intensive distribution of plastic waste.

In newer research we found microplastics in Osun River, its sediments and fish. Those tiny items of plastic aren’t degradable and will leach into residing organisms when ingested, inflicting antagonistic results.

A spread of research have documented quite a lot of plastic waste sorts, paperwork, sizes and polymer compositions, particularly extremely hazardous ones. Hazardous plastic polymers were present in potable water (bottled water and sachet water) and meals reminiscent of (fish and snails). They have got additionally been present in surface waters, sediments and air.

A person strolling on plastic waste in a Lagos suburb. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP.
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There could also be proof of a big amount of uncollected plastic clutter throughout main metropolises like Lagos and Abuja.

And there’s proof that single-use plastics make up many of the plastic waste around the nation. An instance is water sachets – about 60 million of those are used day-to-day in Nigeria.

Classes from different international locations

Nigeria can be informed from the errors and successes of alternative international locations that experience banned single-use plastics.

It’s estimated that over 100 countries globally have in part or absolutely banned single-use plastics. African and Asian international locations height the listing.

About 60% of the international locations in Africa have quite a lot of bans on single-use plastics. Now not all of the international locations have recorded successes.

Rwanda is one African nation that has succeeded. The federal government used a top-down means involving enforcement with stringent consequences and a bottom-up means involving advocacy campaigns on the grassroots.

There have additionally been disasters. In Malawi, the ban failed 3 times basically because of lack of robust stakeholder session and nationwide advocacy.

In Nigeria, reasonably priced possible choices to single-use plastics will have to be made to be had in crucial sectors reminiscent of prescription drugs, fast-paced client items, meals production and processing.

Enforcement

For sustainable enforcement in Nigeria, the ban will have to be carried out sequentially. Non-essential makes use of, reminiscent of fizzy beverages and drinks packaging, will have to be focused first.

This will have to be carried out whilst offering reasonably priced possible choices and inspiring the manufacturing and use of sustainable fabrics. For instance, potable water must be equipped by means of the federal government at available and reasonably priced costs as a substitute for sachet and plastic bottled water.

Strategic stakeholder engagement for tracking, advocacy and buy-in could also be key. You will need to lift alongside the personal and casual sectors which pressure the single-use plastics worth chain.

Incentives to advertise the adherence to this ban are essential. The Federal Ministry of Setting is already main this by means of enforcing the ban throughout its departments and businesses first.

Using mainstream and social media platforms is essential. And the judiciary and criminal establishments should be engaged to improve the enforcement, as was once carried out in Kenya.

Price range should be invested in sustainable native possible choices to single-use plastics. The purpose could be to supply livelihoods.

Universities, polytechnics, and executive analysis establishments such because the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation parastatals will have to be funded to analyze and pilot leading edge and reasonably priced possible choices to single-use plastics.

Tracking should be harmonised throughout states and nationwide establishments to trace development. Open get entry to virtual platforms such because the Environmental Evidence Portal for Nigeria will also be partnered by means of the federal government to make to be had contextual “Nigerian” proof in non-technical codecs for schooling and advocacy.


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