The Lagos State Government has recently banned the distribution and use of styrofoam. The implementation of a ban on styrofoam and single-use plastics in Lagos State is aimed at addressing plastic pollution and the environmental hazards arising from indiscriminate waste disposal and improper waste management practice of residents.
Globally, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has highlighted the distasteful certainty of plastic pollution, emphasizing that an overwhelming equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks loaded with plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes each day. The global size of this crisis is further stressed by an annual leakage of 19-23 million tonnes of plastic waste into the aquatic ecosystems polluting lakes, rivers and seas. According to a UN Industrial Development Organization Report in 2021, Nigeria generates an estimated 32 million tones of solid waste annually with plastic constituting 2.5 million tones. Nigeria is among the top 20 nations that contribute to 83% of the total volume of land-based plastic waste that ends up in the ocean. This reckless disposal of non-biodegradable items contributes to clogging of drainage networks, flood, the breeding of diseases, and the contamination of water sources.
According to UN Environment Programme, this plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production capabilities and social well-being.
It is worthy of mention that the ban on styrofoam in Lagos State is substantiated by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act. The Act established the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), with the powers to enforce all environmental laws, regulations and guidelines as well as enforcing compliance with provisions of international conventions and agreements. The Agency through its regulations provide legal framework for the adoption of sustainable and environment friendly practices in environment sanitation and waste management to minimize pollution. At State level, the Lagos State Environment Protection Agency Law which established the Lagos State Environment Protection Agency empowers the Agency to monitor and control all forms of environmental degradation and prescribe acceptable standards or criteria to control the pollution of the environment, hazardous waste, etc. The law requires both agencies to take possible actions and measures to compact pollution.
Lagos State’s ban on styrofoam resonates with international standards, reflecting a commitment to global environmental sustainability. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has consistently advocated for reducing the use of single-use plastics, due to their detrimental effects on ecosystems. UNEP Guidelines on Single-Use Plastics underscore the need for nations to adopt measures to curb the consumption of single-use plastics, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The State ban also resonates with the objectives of the Basel Convention, an international treaty addressing the control and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects that may result from the generation, transboundary movement and management of hazardous and other wastes.
Lagos State’s ban on styrofoam not only aligns with National and international guidelines but also contributes to the global effort to address plastic pollution and promote sustainable consumption patterns. It is advised that the use of suitable and environmentally friendly options which are biodegradable are adopted to help reduce waste pollution and environmental degradation.
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