BY CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA—National Orientation Agency, NOA, yesterday called for a ban on non-biodegradable plastics and bags, popularly known as polythene bags, as a packaging material in the country, in view of its adverse effect on the environment.
Director-General of the agency, Alhaji Idi Farouk, however, sought an alternative means of packaging products through the use of paper bags which, according to him, “are light and can easily decompose.”
Addressing newsmen on the forthcoming nationwide campaign on “Operation rid Nigerian street of menace of polythene” in Abuja, Alhaji Farouk said the use of paper bags would reduce environmental hazards posed by the use of polythene bags and sachets for water packaging.
He also called for a legislation to make improper waste disposal a serious offence, adding that “this law should be strictly enforced such that anyone caught throwing polythene bags or sachets carelessly on the streets or elsewhere will be adequately penalized.
“If the drainages in these coastal and other inland states, which recently experienced flooding were devoid of blockages caused majorly by polythene bags and solid wastes, the resultant flood would have been mild and controllable.”
“A lot of hazard is associated with improper disposal of polythene. Due to its non-degradable nature, they are hard to decompose and as a result they can act as breeding places for many of the diseases which sooner or later cause an epidemic in surrounding environment.
“Industries that currently use polythene packaging should be encouraged to recycle the polythene bags, a time frame should be set for total withdrawal of polythene bags from the Nigerian environment.
“In some countries like Rwanda, polythene products have been completely phased out and polythene bags collected and recycled into plastic pipes for use in sewage disposal”.
The Registrar of Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, EHORECON, represented by Mrs Adeola Daramola, explained that bio-degradable bags were best alternative packaging materials, as they only have one year to decompose, contrary to polythene bags with about five hundred years before decomposition.
In his remarks the Commandant, Disaster Management Department of the Nigeria Society and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Dr. Adeoye Emmanuel said the cost effective method of averting a disaster is to go on a non structural mitigative procedures and the best thing to do is to get polythene bags out of the environment.
He also emphasized the need for “a behavioural change to ensure that we do not dispose them anyhow because the consequence is not palatable”.
The Secretary General of Red Cross Society of Nigeria in his own contributions noted that if people are disciplined like in the era of War Against Indiscipline, WAI, polythene bags would not be a problem, adding that, “we are battling with the problem of man-made disaster not natural and it is our indiscipline that brought this on us”.