Nigeria, with a population of over 200 Million people generates about 32 Million tons of solid waste per year.
Minister of State for the Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor said this in a keynote address on the occassion of the signing ceremony of the “Promoting Sustainable Plastic Value Chain through Circular Economy Practices’’in Abuja on Thursday.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that the project was being supported by the government of Japan and to be implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Environment Ministry and other key partners.
Of the sum, 1.15 Million tons generated are plastic wastes, which are illegally dumped in open spaces including drainages and disposed off with hazardous wastes such as health care wastes in dumpsites and burnt openly with an estimated 340 thousand tons ending up as marine litter.
The Minister lamented that these 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 and loss in agricultural productivity, among others.
She said: “This project is very welcomed as the global community including Nigeria is making concerted efforts including developing a separate international instrument to address plastic pollution holistically and sustainably.”
Chief Ikeazor said 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.
She said that this could include the 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.
The Minister said that her Ministry had taken proactive measures to promote, institutionalise and entrench sound circular economy principles and practices in the country.
These actions include: i. Putting in place national policies on Solid Waste and Plastic waste management;
ii. Inclusion of waste sector in the Revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC);
iii. Membership of African Circular Economy Alliance, Nigeria is a founding member and co-chair of the African Circular Economy Alliance;
iv. Establishment and Implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Programme;
v. Membership of the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP). Nigeria is in the process of domesticating the GPAP into the Nigeria National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP);
vi. Establishment of the Nigeria Circular Economy Working Group and the Nigeria Circular Economy Programme;
vii. Several initiatives such as the World Bank Assisted ProBlue Project for Lagos, National Plastic Waste Recycling Programme, Waste to Wealth Entrepreneurship Programme, Community based Solid Waste Management Programme e.t.c.
Chief Ikeazor said Nigeria’s circular economy potentials could be seen in its large and thriving waste management sector which attracts operators due to the high volume of wastes and demand for recycled materials.
She said one of the ways to realize this potential was to support the industry by demonstrating benefits of adopting circular economy practices with innovative technologies including recycling technology or alternative material production.
According to her, this is exactly what the 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.
The Minister said that the project would therefore complement the efforts of government in mainstreaming circular economy principles and practices into our National Development Plans.
Recall that the Government of Japan funded a study on available sustainable alternative materials for plastic innovative packaging and recycling technologies that meet market needs in Africa to reduce plastic leakages to the environment, in Nigeria.
The study which was conducted in 2021 was implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.
She thanked UNIDO and the government of Japan for their tireless efforts in supporting the country to address its numerous environmental challenges particularly plastic pollution.
She enjoined all to work as a team to ensure effective implementation of the project.