The Nigerian Economic Summit (NESG) has said Nigeria imports an estimated average of 952,380 plastics and plastic products annually from different parts of the world.
Chair of the technical sub-committee of the 29th NESG Mrs Ozofu Ogiemudia said Nigeria is one of the largest consumers of plastics in Africa, stating that the country imported an estimated 20 million tonnes of primary plastics and plastic products between 1996 and 2017. “And this is projected to reach 40 million tonnes by 2030,” she said. Ogiemudia reiterated that the high volume of plastic use in the country points to the importance of considering the effects it may have on people and the environment.
Ogiemudia disclosed this during pre NES29 summit webinar on harnessing Nigeria’s plastics value chain of the NESG on Tuesday, September 19th, 2023, with the theme “Waste-to-Wealth: The Plastics Value Chain.”
According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), how plastics are produced, used, and disposed of pollutes ecosystems, creates risks to human health, and destabilises the climate.
UNEP said plastic waste flows into the ocean at about 11 million metric tonnes annually, harming marine life and damaging aquatic habitats. Nigeria generates some 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, some of which end up in the sea. Doing nothing will accelerate the annual flow of Plastic into the ocean, which is expected to nearly triple by 2040 to 29 million metric tonnes per year, equivalent to 50 kg of Plastic per metre of coastline worldwide.
Speaking on harnessing human capital and creating jobs for sustainable economic transformation through supportive policies and regulations, minister of state, environment, Dr Iziaq Kunle Salako said the accumulation of plastic objects including multilayered packaging, electronics, healthcare, clinical and pharmaceutical sectors dumped after use has a severe impact on the environment, biodiversity and human health.
Represented by the director-general, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Professor Aliyu Jauro, Salako said for sustainable development and management of waste to wealth, innovative solutions need to be explored that will help recycle and transform plastics for good use.
Professor Jauro stated that improperly disposed plastics clog drainages, leading to floods, contaminating water bodies, and causing threats to wildlife, indicating the importance of recycling. He noted the importance of recycling, noting that the gaps in plastic waste control, such as lack of identifiable information on the cost incurred by the government on the collection, sorting, in-house gas emission, waste collection across geo-political zones and cost involved in setting up collection points are hindering Nigeria from fully harnessing the potentials of the plastics value chain.
During the panel session, the director of corporate affairs and sustainability at Nigeria Bottling Company Ltd, Mrs Oluwasoromidayo George, said waste disposal has a severe environmental impact and that Nigeria can create about 750,000 jobs within a short time frame to improve the lives of millions of workers in the informal sector by fully harnessing the potentials in the plastics value chain.
She revealed that the green economy holds about 250 million dollars and plastic recycling investment potential of about 40 million dollars in Africa. Mrs George also noted that UNEP lays out a roadmap to dramatically reduce the risks associated with the plastic value chain by adopting a circular approach that keeps plastics out of ecosystems and our water bodies in a way that delivers significant economic, social, and environmental wins.
Executive director of Circular Economy Innovation Partnership, Dr Natalie Beinisch, stated that proper waste disposal was essential in ensuring the transformation of plastic waste to wealth, noting that Innovative grassroots programs can help low and middle-income earners to increase their income through the collection of plastics and transporting to waste centres that provide money or incentives for waste exchange.
On her part, the executive director of Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA), Arese Agharese, said the organisation helped create awareness, invest in research and development and community engagement programs, and has engaged over 100 communities since its creation.
Agharese said they collaborate with the government to have implementable policies that will encourage recycled plastics to get back into use in the industries, noting that they also create awareness in schools and use social media to engage people to drive the message of waste-to-wealth all across the nation.