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Why Lagos bans styrofoam, single-use plastics with immediate effect ─Commissioner

Styrofoam and Single-Use Plastics

*Tokunbo Wahab, Lagos State Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, explains the immediate ban on non-degradable styrofoam and single-use plastic materials will help to curb the harmful effects of such plastics on consumers and worsening environmental degradation of the coastline state in Nigeria

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Lagos State Government (LASG) has announced a ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam and other single-use plastics, otherwise called ‘take away’ in local parlance, across the metropolitan state in Nigeria with immediate effect.

Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, Lagos State Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, disclosed this development, January 21, 2024, via his verified official X (formerly Twitter) account.

Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, Lagos State Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources

Wahab stated that the ban on the single-use materials would help to curb the harmful effects of single-use plastics on the environment and consumers.

The Commissioner said: “Following the menace of (and the harmful effects) which single-use plastics, especially non-degradable styrofoam, are causing on the environment, the Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, is hereby announcing a ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam and other single-use plastics in the state with immediate effect.”

Kunle Adeshina, Director of Public Affairs at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, in a statement also affirmed the Lagos State Government announced a ban on the usage and distribution of Styrofoam and other single-use plastics in the State with immediate effect.

Adeshina noted the Commissioner said the decision was reached following the menace which the single-use plastics, especially the non-biogradeable Styrofoam was causing on the environment.

The statement disclosed Wahab explained that Lagos State took the present action, based  on several enabling laws and regulations, such as the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulation 2009 which was established pursuant to NESREA Act that prohibited and specifically ban single-use plastics in the country, but hitherto had not been enforced in Nigeria.

The Commissioner said other laws backing the decision include the 2017 State Environmental Management and Protection Law which states under Section 56(I) (y) that “prevent, stop or discontinue any activity or omission, which is likely to cause harm or has caused harm to human health or the environment.”

He also explained that most drainage channels in the state fondly christened the “Centre of Excellence” are daily clogged up by Styrofoam through its indiscriminate distribution and usage despite the regular cleaning and evacuation of the drains with humongous amounts.

The Commissioner restated that the larger chunk of litterings across major roads and markets, which he Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) contends with daily are comprised of Styro foams.

According to Wahab, the State Government cannot fold its hands and watch the continued desecration of its environment, especially for a coastal city as Lagos.

He, therefore, directed the State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) to immediately commence the implementation of the ban on Styrofoam and single-use plastics across the state.

The Commissioner as well directed the two regulatory agencies to clamp down on all the production companies and distribution outlets for Styrofoam in the state to prevent further distribution to consumers.

Producers, distributors and consumers to find alternatives to single-use plastics: Wahab

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources has advised producers, distributors, and end-users of these Styrofoam packs to take the latest ban seriously and find alternatives or risk heavy fines, and other penalties, including sealing of their premises.

Heaps of used plastic materials and PET bottles in a coastline

Lagos State also warned that defaulters could also be made to bear the costs of the daily cleanup of their products from the roads and drainage channels, which amount to tens of millions of Naira daily, according to the Commissioner.

He stated: “Our state cannot be held hostage to the economic interests of a few wealthy business owners, compared to the millions of Lagosians suffering the consequences of indiscriminate dumping of single-use plastics and other types of waste.”

Wahab said the well known consequences of such environmental infractions include climate change, flooding, and diseases like Cholera.

He equally urged Lagos consumers and residents to boycott Styrofoam packs and single-use plastics, while imbibing the practice of using reusable food containers and water bottles for their food and drinks.

The Commissioner implored Lagosians: “The convenience of single-use plastics comes at a huge cost to the society.

“We must all make small sacrifices for our collective well-being.”

On styrofoam and single-use plastics

ConsumerConnect reports Styrofoam is a kind of expanded polystyrene, used especially for making food containers.

It is a “trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam, manufactured to provide continuous building insulation board used in walls, roofs, and foundations as thermal insulation and as a water barrier.

As foamed polystyrene, styrofoam is made into insulation, packaging, and food containers such as beverage cups, egg cartons, and disposable plates and trays.

Solid polystyrene products include injection-molded eating utensils, audiocassette holders, and cases for packaging compact discs.

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