Lagos State government yesterday announced a ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam and other single-use plastics with immediate effect.
The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, who announced this in a statement he personally signed, said the decision was reached, following the menace which the single-use plastics, especially the non-biodegradable Styrofoam, were causing on the environment.
He said most drainage channels in the state were daily clogged up by styrofoam through indiscriminate distribution and usage, despite the regular cleaning and evacuation of the drains with humongous amounts.
He reiterated that the larger chunk of littering across major roads and markets which LAWMA contended with daily was made up of styro foams.
The commissioner said the state government could not fold its arms and watch the continued desecration of its environment.
He subsequently directed the State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, and the Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, to immediately commence implementation of the ban.
He asked the two agencies to clamp down on all the production companies and distribution outlets for styrofoam in the state to prevent further distribution.
Wahab explained that the state took the present action, relying 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 plastic in the country but has not been enforced.
Other laws, according to him, include the 2017 State Environmental Management and Protection Law which states under section 56(I) (y) “prevent, stop or discontinue any activity or omission, which is likely to cause harm or has caused harm to human health or the environment.
The commissioner advised producers, distributors, and end-users of styrofoam packs to take the ban seriously and find alternatives or risk heavy fines, and other penalties, including sealing of their premises.
He warned that they could also be made to bear the costs of the daily cleanup of their products from roads and drainage channels which runs into tens of millions of naira daily.
“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,” he stated.
According to Wahab, the well known consequence include climate change, flooding, and diseases like cholera.
He advised consumers and residents to boycott styrofoam packs and single use plastics and imbibe the practice of using reusable food containers and water bottles for their food and drinks. “The convenience of single use plastic comes at a huge cost to the society. We must all make small sacrifices for our collective well-being,” Wahab pleaded.