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Stakeholders call for biodegradable products

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By Usman Oladimeji

Switching to eco-friendly products is crucial in promoting sustainability.

In recognition of the value of maintaining a sustainable environment, major stakeholders cutting across several sectors in Nigeria has called for widespread utilization and production of biodegradable products, a move which aligns with global practices against carbon pollution. This was mentioned at a Stakeholders’ Forum on nose mask production from biodegradable polymers, involving stakeholders from the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

The Nigeria Council for Disease Control, NCDC, Lagos State University, LASU, and National Biosafety Management (NBMA) were also onboard on this call for sustainable environment concern, which was coordinated by the Project Development and Design Department of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi in Lagos (FIIRO). They stressed the critical importance of increasing research and development spending to improve numerous economic subsectors. Mrs. Omoyeni Balogun, Deputy Director of the Sanitation Services Department at the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment remarked that using local materials and switching to eco-friendly products were crucial in mitigating the negative effects plastic wastes have on the environment and promoting sustainability.

Flooding and health risks exacerbated by plastic waste issues.

Represented by the Dr. B. Oyefeso, of the University of Ibadan’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Resources, Professor Abdulganiyu Raji spoke on the theme “Biodegradable Polymer: Pathway to a Greener Future,” elaborating on the relevance of bioplastics and biodegradable polymers. Due to their biodegradability and eco-friendliness, he said, bioplastics and biodegradable polymers have gained a lot of momentum as a means of creating a sustainable environment and ending the discharge of non-degradable plastic waste in the environment.

Dr. Oyefeso further noted that the public debate on the environmental catastrophe and its influence on public health has been heightened by the alarming growth of global plastic production. Waste management issues were pointed out as well by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the necessity for advanced research and environmental legislation. Flooding and health risks are further exacerbated by the plastic waste issue, he said, because of careless dumping and clogged sewers after heavy rains. Dr. Bankole Kolawale, Chairman of FIIRO’s Stakeholders’ Planning Committee, spoke earlier about the significance of transitioning to biodegradable products.

Nigeria’s plastic usage reaches a total of 1.25 million tonnes.

He maintained his view that we must take responsibility for our environmental well-being and embrace sustainable alternatives, arguing that biodegradable products provide a solution to the growing problem of plastic waste that imperils our ecosystems and health. Dr. Kolawale said the government should fund research and development to increase the use and production of biodegradable materials in all sectors of the economy. Dr. Omolola Oluwadara, the project’s principal investigator, said that the increased use of nose masks during the pandemic had further compounded the waste disposal problem because most masks were made from polypropylene, a fossil derived material.

According to her, just 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled worldwide, while 22 percent is improperly managed, and that Nigeria’s plastic usage has increased by 116.26 percent in the past 15 years, reaching a total of 1.25 million tonnes. Dr. Oluwadara explained that during the pandemic, the country’s supply of nose masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) had to be supplied mostly through imports from China and other countries to tackle the situation.

It’s important to replace fossil-based nose masks with biomass made.

She explained that foreign producers put the country on a waiting list, forcing many locals to utilize fabric to create a nose mask that was practically a form of dummy and provided little to no actual protection. Hence, she stressed the importance of replacing fossil-based nose masks with a more sustainable alternative, such as those made from biomass which are biodegradable, which the Federal Institute of Industrial Research has the suitable ability to do so in order to prepare the country in the event of another pandemic disaster.

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