The World Bank posits that with population growth and urbanisation, waste generation is was expected to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. It is also estimated that every 2 hours people churn out enough trash to fill the world’s largest container, that is 12 container ships every single day and 4380 container ships in one year. By 2030 the amount of household waste will almost double to 3 billion tons annually.
Every year we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste and if all this waste are put on trucks they would go around the world 24 times. Ironically, the top producers of waste are small and island nations like Kuwait, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts. This is because Antigua, Barbados and St. Kitts are tourist islands without the necessary infrastructure for proper sanitation and waste removal.
The Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) estimates that nearly 65 million metric tonnes of waste are generated in Nigeria yearly with Lagos alone generating about13 million metric tonnes of wastes. Most waste goes to landfills to be burned and burning waste produces dioxins – one of the most toxic chemicals known to science.
Some countries however have been able to develop innovative and forward thinking ways of managing their waste and creating value out of them. Sweden’s waste-to-energy system efficiently provides direct heating to 950,000 Swedish households and electricity to 260,000 homes by sorting out and recycling its trash so effectively that less than 1% ends up in landfills. Sweden also imports trash from other European countries to fuel its power needs, with 700 kg (1543 lbs) of rubbish translating into up to 250 kg (551 lbs) of energy and fuel.
Eco Art Uganda from the slums of Kampala is a collection of artists promoting environmental awareness who have created an amusement park for children from discarded materials. Recycled swings and life-size board games made from plastic bottles are some of its attractions which serves to beautify the community, empower and educate kids while effectively recycling trash and managing waste.
India has devised a way to transform plastic waste into a substitute for bitumen – the main ingredient in asphalt used for road construction. The cheaper plastic substitute replaces as much as 15 percent of the more expensive bitumen used for roads.
The Lagos State Waste Authority (LAWMA) has made progress with the management of wastes in dump sites located around different areas of the state. Also, at the MRF at Igando, LAWMA separates and sorts out collected materials which are baled and sent to countries that import these waste. Over the years, Lagos State has created several agencies to tackle waste. The Lagos State Refuse Disposal Board (LSRDB) in 1977 was followed by the Lagos State Waste Disposal Board (LSWDB) in 1981 then the Lagos State Waste Management Authority in 1991and the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in 2007. Despite these, the issue of waste management is still a problem in Lagos with none of these agencies adopting recycling methods as effectively as Germany, Austria, South Korea and Wales which have the best recycling rate in the world, recycling between 52% and 56% of their waste.
There is still a huge gap in the waste management system of Lagos state and this has left the value chain of this industry largely exploited. It is this gap that Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu seeks to fill. Babajide Sanwo-Olu the APC gubernatorial candidate has worked with the progressive government of Lagos state (from the Tinubu era) and has years of solid experience behind him. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has a track record of performance in the public sector and has participated in major economic projects including the privatization and commercialization of several Federal Government-owned companies and parastatals. He also spear-headed the preparation and publication of the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS). He is reckoned with as a natural leader with strong people skills and is well versed in the principles of inclusion and equal representation in the interest of all.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu has held positions in Lagos state as the acting honourable commissioner for Economic Planning and Budgets, commissioner for commerce & industry, Honourable Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Pioneer and Board Member, Lagos state security Trust fund and MD of the Lagos state Property Development Corporation. In the private sector, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has held Senior Management roles at Lead Merchant Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Atlantic Bank (now FCMB) and has entrepreneurial experience in the real estate, power and aviation sectors of the economy.
Concerning the challenge of waste management, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s vision is to empower LAWMA to effectively drive the elimination of waste accumulation in Lagos by eliciting more private partnership for this cause. He also intends to push the go green policy for manufacturing organizations and use tax incentives to push eco friendly practices.
He will drive for an adoption of state wide recycling plants and will collaborate with internationally reputed waste management firms to train personnel who will work in these plants. Babajide Sanwo-Olu will also invest in infrastructure for these recycling plants and increase them with time. In this way, he will reduce unemployment, drive eco friendly policies and realize other potentials embedded in the waste management value chain.
The problem of waste presents a huge challenge for Lagosians and I am optimistic that recycling is the way forward. Most administrations have paid lip service to establishing recycling plants but what they fail to realise is that waste is a veritable source of wealth, employment and an effective way to beautify the environment. Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu seems to realise this so we look forward to his administration and anticipate his forward thinking policies.