Pollution: Society advocates development of National Strategy for plastic waste management

Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) has called on the Federal Ministry of Environment to expedite action in the development of proposed national strategy for the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, the President of WAMASON made the call at a round table talk and exhibition on `Plastic waste management in Nigeria’ on Tuesday in Abuja.

Prof. Oladele Osibanjo – WAMASON President

He decried the absence of uniform approach to address plastic waste and single-use plastics in the country presently.

Osibanjo identified plastic pollution as visible in all cities of Nigeria due to inefficiency of waste management system in the country thereby posing environmental and health challenge.

The round table organised by WAMASON, FCT Council was to provide a platform to exchange knowledge, ideas, experiences and acquisition of new, effective and low cost technological skills for plastics recycling in Nigeria.

Represented by Ahmed Amis, National Technical Secretary of the society, he emphasised the need for paradigm shift from seeing waste plastics as waste to appreciation of plastic wastes as a valuable resource.

“The proposed strategy to be developed by the ministry with involvement of relevant stakeholders including WAMASON is aim at providing a policy direction to all stakeholders including state governments in taking a unified and collective approach.

“This strategy will provide opportunities for the local industries to embrace new eco-friendly alternatives as the world moves toward adapting products and processes that can address plastic pollution.

“The effectiveness of this strategy will require a structure and coordinated effort from all players in the plastic value-chain working to address pollution arising from various categories of plastics and single-use plastics in particular,’’ he said.

Osibanjo said that the National Environmental Standard Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) had begun addressing collection and recycling of plastic waste for food and beverages industry in the country.

He said that the process was by adopting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy within the circular economy paradigm.

The president defined plastic as a polymeric material, synthetic or semi-synthetic that could be moulded into products of various shapes and sizes.

Osibanjo, while analysing the cost of inaction regarding plastic waste management said that plastic constituted about 13 per cent of municipal solid waste in the country.

“In the last one decade, the total mismanaged waste plastics in Nigeria is estimated at about 8.5 million tonnes and less than 12 per cent of this is recycled while the rest end up at open dumps and gutters causing massive flooding problems in the wet season.

“Waste plastics are disposed with municipal solid wastes with minimal formal recycling.

“In Nigeria as of 2015, less than 12 per cent of plastic waste was recycled. There is no current capacity for energy recovery in cement kilns with heat recovery.

“About 80 per cent of plastic waste goes to landfills and dump sites. Other disposal options include open burning and landfill fires resulting in air pollution with risk to human health,’’ he said.