The House of Representatives yesterday passed for a second reading, a bill for an Act to prohibit the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Environment. The member representing Esan North-East/Esan South- East, Hon Sergius Ogun, while leading the debate said the proposed law is meant to address harmful impacts to oceans, rivers and lakes.
According to him, it will also relieve pressure on landfalls, waste management, forests, environment, wildlife as well as human beings. Ogun explained that uncontrolled use of plastic materials (polythene bags) and the arbitrary disposal of same, posed great danger to humanity and even to the environment. “Over time, these plastic/polythene bags find their way into the marine environment and are ingested by marine animals thereby choking them.” He stated further that about 94 per cent of all birds had plastic in their stomachs, which were also found in the stomachs of many endangered species.
“At least 267 different species of animals have suffered as a result of ingestion of plastic. In fact, these results caused Australia to ban bags locally in 2003, in an effort to protect the migrating whales in Tasmania. “In Ireland, there is what is known as ‘bag tax’. This resulted in a 90 per cent drop in bag usage and a great reduction in spread.” He said the main drive behind bag bans was to reduce how much plastic found its way into the marine world, so as not to endanger the animals.
According to the lawmaker, the bill will empower National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and other relevant environmental protection agencies, the statutory foundation to clampdown on those who pollute our environment with the use of plastic bags.
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