In a bid to reduce plastic waste in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Environment, in partnership with UNIDO and Japan government, are seeking to promote innovative packaging and recycling technologies that will go a long way in plastic waste management; HELEN OJI reports.
Plastic waste is a major global environmental challenge as its huge production increased by more than twenty-fold between 1964 and 2015, with an annual output of 322 million metric tonnes, which is expected to double by 2035 and quadruple by 2050 if no concrete action is taken.
Mismanaged plastic waste which mostly originates from land, does not only contaminate the land but is released into the marine environment, polluting it and threatening biodiversity balance while also negatively impacting the blue economy. Mismanaged plastics and inadequate waste management is also a source of GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
Mismanaged plastic waste
“In Nigeria, it is estimated that plastic accounts for 13 per cent of total solid waste. The country is ranked as the 9th top country out of 192 countries having coastlines generating mass of mismanaged plastic waste by the population living within 50km of the coast, accounting to 0.85 million metric tons, or 2.7 per cent of global mismanaged plastic waste. It is projected that Nigeria will be the nation producing the largest volume of mismanaged plastic waste in the African continent by 2025.
As the most populated nation with the largest GDP in Africa, Nigeria shares the plastic problem with its increasing consumption from 578,000 tonnes of plastics in 2007 to about 1,250,000 tonnes in 2017. Per Capita plastic consumption has grown by 5 per cent annually from 4.0kg to 6.5kg. It is estimated that each citizen’s waste-utilization is 7.5kg of plastic per year.
According to the World Bank, plastic waste accounts for 12 per cent of the total amount of municipal solid waste generated globally in 2016 with only 9 per cent recycled and 14 per cent collected for recycling.
Developing plastic chain
United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, (UNIDO), Representative and Regional Director, Nigeria Regional Office Hub, Mr. Jean Bakole, said “we are here to support the Government of Nigeria in developing a plastics value-chain assessment through the project Study on available sustainable alternative materials to plastics, and innovative packaging and recycling technologies that meet market needs in Africa to reduce plastic leakages to the environment.
“It is a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Environment, Japan and UNIDO to reduce plastic waste and the key component of this partnership is to promote sustainable plastic value chain through circular economy practices in Nigeria.”
He noted that the project will help to promote a circular economy in plastics management in Lagos and the FCT.
“Through the project, we also hope to develop national and states implementation guidelines for the National Policy on Plastics Waste Management, strengthen recycling value-chains in selected municipalities in Lagos and FCT and Technology demonstration of circular economy and resource efficiency practices.
“This initiative falls under the implementation of the 2018-2022 Country Programme (CP), especially under its environment component. The CP which will soon be converted into another key tool of UNIDO, namely the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) as directed by the President Muhammadu Buhari, is aimed at supporting the remarkable efforts of the Government of Nigeria through multi-stakeholder partnership towards the acceleration of the economic diversification and sustainable growth, development through inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.
“UNIDO is strongly committed to partner with the Government of Nigeria in cooperating with key partners, especially the Government of Japan to translate the PCP’s industrial projects into concrete impactful industrial achievements on job creation, increased revenues and poverty reduction at the State and country levels in Nigeria and ECOWAS region.
“Given the expected outcome of the project expected to run for 36 months from 2022 to 2025, an environment expert with the UNIDO regional office, Oluyomi Banjo, in his presentation, said circular economic principles and practices are integrated into the effective implementation of plastic waste management, and the recycling capacity of plastic value chains are strengthened, so that the number of plastics leaking to the environment can be reduced.
In 2013, there was a national workshop on phase-out of non-biodegradable plastics. This workshop attracted more than 50 manufacturers of various plastics or plastics additive products where they were sensitized about the harmful effect of non-biodegradable plastics.
Last year, the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor unveiled the UNIDO supported National Policy on Solid Waste Management and National Policy on Plastics Waste Management. These are among decisions reached by the government for shaping the future of solid waste and plastics management in Nigeria.
She noted that the unwholesome practices have been linked to the perennial flooding across the country, increased respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, increased incidences of cancer, loss of aquatic life, loss in agricultural productivity, etc.
Ikeazor stressed that the large volume of plastic waste being generated in the country presents circular economic business opportunities across the plastic value chain which should be properly harnessed for job/wealth creation, establishment of micro, small and medium scale enterprises, private sector investment including foreign direct investment in addition to preventing/reducing plastic leakages to the environment.
“Therefore, the Ministry has taken proactive measures to promote, institutionalise and entrench sound circular economy principles and practices in the country,” she said.
Ikeazor added that the project would therefore complement the efforts of our government in mainstreaming circular economy principles and practices into the National Development Plans.
“Nigeria’s circular economy potentials can be seen in its large and thriving waste management sector that attracts operators due to the high volume of wastes and demand for recycled materials. One of the ways to realize this potential is to support the industry by demonstrating benefits of adopting circular economy practices with innovative technologies including recycling technology or alternative material production.
“This is exactly what this project whose objective is to promote the integration of circular economy principles and practices into plastic waste management, strengthen plastic value chains, demonstrate the benefits of adopting circular economy practices and resource efficient production of plastic value chains in Nigeria, is designed to achieve,” she added.
Earlier, the Japanese Ambassador of Japan, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, said Japan is committing $3m to the programme to promote a sustainable plastic value chain through circular economic practices due to its commitment in promoting a better eco-system, stressing that what affects Nigeria affects Japan too.
He stressed that Japan will continue to contribute to the development of the blue economy, as well as the prosperity of Nigeria, adding that it plans to achieve this through the multi-faceted project of contribution to environment conservation and to the new economic growth.
This content was originally published here.