BY FUNMI OLASUPO

Abuja-Federal Government through the Ministry of Environment, Wednesday, disclosed its plan to phase-out the production and use of non-biodegradable plastics in the country.

Plastic waste which has been known to be a major cause of litre in the Nigerian environment, water, pollution, floods and general environmental degradation are clogged by plastic wastes particularly plastic bags and discarded pure water sachets.

Speaking during the stakeholder’s workshop on the phase-out of non- biodegradable plastics in Nigeria, Supervising Minister of Environment Arch. Darius Ishaku said “the phase-out programme will be implemented in a gradual, painless and sustainable manner in order not to cause social and economic dislocation.”

Ishaku explained that “the increasing use of plastic materials in all facets of our lives with their attendants consequences has been a concern not only to government at all levels but to all Nigerians.”

He lamented that “The large scale flooding of major Nigerian urban cities and villages in recent years particularly in 2012 is a clear testimony to this danger.

“The federal government of Nigeria recognises that the uncontrolled use of plastic materials and indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste particularly shopping bags and pure water sachets present clear and imminent danger to the Nigerian environment and its citizens.” He stated.

He maintained “Several countries have adopted measures to reduce the production and use of plastic materials particularly shopping bags. These measures range from imposition of taxes, fines, restriction to outright ban on shopping bags.”

“Government is aware that the implementation of such a programme will not be easy, especially since the plastic sector employs and contribute significantly to the economic and social well-being of thousands of Nigerians.

“May I use this forum to point out that the phase-out programme will be implemented in a gradual, painless and sustainable manner in order not to cause social and economic dislocation.” He stressed.

Also speaking, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment Mr. Taiye Haruna said “the workshop which serves as an awareness and sensitization forum is the first in a series of activities and events feared towards a gradual and sustainable phase-out of the manufacture and use of non-biodegradable plastic in the country.

Haruna maintained that “It is common knowledge that the country’s Municipal Solid Waste Composition has witnessed drastic changes over the years and the changes are attributed mostly to rapid population growth, increased urbanization, changing life styles, social and economic status.”

According to him, “A major consequence of the above scenario is the unrelenting use of plastic materials and the indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste in our environment.

“One of such interventions is the National Plastic Recycling Programme in which the federal ministry of environment in collaboration with the Ecological Funds Office is establishing Multi-purpose plastic recycling plants in 26 selected cities in Nigeria.

“The plant would amongst others, provide employment for Nigerians, attract investment in this sector and provide raw materials to plastic manufacturer for re-manufacturing while at the same time ensuring cleaner and healthier environment.

“The ministry understands that this effort though laudable is not comprehensive enough to address the plastic waste problem. He stressed.

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