To tackle the poor plastic waste management that has been impeding the country over the year, the Nigerian government have established a Project Steering Committee (PSC) with the responsibility of Promoting Plastics Value Chains Sustainability through Circular Economy Practices. At the inauguration ceremony held in Abuja, Mohammed Abdullahi, the Minister of Environment, said that it is interesting that this is starting up at the same time that the world is attempting to negotiate the creation of a legally enforceable mechanism for the protection of the environment of plastics throughout their full lifespan.
He added that abuse of plastic and inadequate waste management leach harmful chemicals into drinks, food, and the environment, including toxicants linked to diabetes, infertility, and prostrate/breast cancer. Tons of plastic waste not adequately disposed of fill the streets and block drainages, which can lead to flooding, pollute the soil, endanger farmlands and animals, litter the oceans, threaten biodiversity, and raise greenhouse emissions when burned. In response to these problems, the minister said, the Federal Ministry of Environment, along with other stakeholders, addressed the plastic issue as a whole by utilizing the circular economy model, which is a national policy on the management of solid and plastic waste to promote environmental protection and more with recycling emphasis.
A sustainable plastic alternative will help improve plastic management.
With the goal of limiting plastic leakages in Nigeria, the Japanese government funded a research on sustainable alternatives to plastic, creative packaging, and recycling innovations that satisfy market demands in Africa. The study, which was done in 2021 by UNIDO and the Ministry, found that there aren’t many recycling programs in the country; waste collected is only 45%; 80% of plastic waste ends up going to dumping sites, while only 10% is recycled; there aren’t any alternatives to plastics on the market yet, and bioplastics aren’t well known, among other things. The minister pointed out that this project was made to fill in these gaps. It is being covered by the government of Japan and powered by UNIDO and the Federal Ministry of Environment together.
According to the minister, the Collaboratory Project Steering Committee was created to help the project get off to a strong start in terms of execution by offering advice and technical support to help it achieve its goals. The Committee is made up of representatives from different organizations, including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) – Co-Chair; Federal Ministry of Environment (Co-chair); The Embassy of Japan in Nigeria – Guest Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; National Environmental Standards, Regulation and Enforcement Agency (NESREA); Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Waste Management Association of Nigeria (WAMASON); Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA); Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB); Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA); Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
The committees will see to the implementation of the initiative.
Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, the Japanese Ambassador representative to Nigeria, stated in his speech that the Steering Committee would be responsible for overseeing the Plastic Circular Economy initiative by evaluating the progress of the project, validating the project’s general direction, planning process, and helping to mobilize resources as needed for project implementation. He said that the Plastic project was based on the findings of a survey done in Nigeria. Its goal is to contribute to Nigeria’s integrated and sustainable industrial growth and cease plastics from getting into the environment by promoting Plastic Circular economy standards and procedures that can be used to handle plastics better and enhance the plastic supply chain.
Furthermore, Kazuyoshi said this is UNIDO’s first initiative using the plastic circular economy to promote Nigeria’s plastic waste management policy. UNIDO has closed the gap among various stakeholders in Nigeria and Japan, and it is envisaged that UNIDO, Japan’s assistance partner and the UN’s main agency in plastic circulation, can be helpful in marine plastics. This comprehensive project will help solve coastal unemployment, which is titled the cause of piracy, and promote coastal fisheries by conserving the Gulf of Guinea marine ecosystem. Japan expects this initiative will improve the Gulf of Guinea, the blue economy, and Nigeria’s prosperity.
Nigeria’s plastic waste increases due to its population – Bakole.
Lastly, Mr. Jean Bakole, UNIDO Regional Director and Country Representative for West Africa said plastic waste is a global environmental issue. Between 1964 and 2015, its production surged by over twenty-fold to 322 million metric tonnes. Without global action, this figure will double by 2035 and multiply by 2050. According to the World Bank, mismanaged plastics and garbage also emit GHGs. Plastic waste contributes to 12% of global municipal solid waste, while only 14% is collected for recycling and 9% is recycled. As Africa’s most populous country with the greatest GDP, Nigeria’s plastic waste issue is growing due to its increased usage from 578,000 tonnes in 2007 to 1,250,000 tonnes. Thus, per capita, plastic usage has increased by 5% yearly from 4.0kg to 6.5kg. Each person consumes 7.5kg of plastic every year.