By Elizabeth Adegbesan
Stakeholders in the food packaging and plastic recycling sectors said that lack of waste disposal infrastructure, negative behaviour of consumers toward waste disposal and lack of education are reasons companies cannot manage plastic waste disposal in the country which has resulted in environmental issues like flooding and pollution.
Speaking at the FairTrade 6th International Nigeria agro-food and plastprintpack Exhibition/Conference in Lagos last week, the stakeholders also noted that despite the creation of the Extended Producer Responsibility Policy, there is need for collaboration starting from the waste generator to the off-takers to establish a sustainable packaging in the country and drive plastic recycling towards a circular economy.
Speaking at the Exhibition/Conference Arese Onaghise, a member of Food Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) said: “In 2014, the Extended producer Responsibility came about.
“Yes, there is a regulatory guideline for Extended Producer Responsibility Policy that places a responsibility on the food and beverage sector especially the packaging sector to be responsible for the whole life circle of their products. Not just within their industry where they do manufacturing.
“The most important thing is how do we close the loophole in the disposal of plastics? How are we able to take it back into the same production?
“Today we are talking about plastics. What are we doing about that? We are working with the whole value chain.
“We cannot do it alone. The companies cannot do it alone. Even in recycling, there is a whole value chain.
“Starting from us that generate the waste, the waste pickers, the aggregators of the recyclers and finally the off-takers are finally to put it back for processing.
“It is going from the waste back into production. That is how we can effectively close the loop.
“On his part, Chief Executive Officer, Recyclan, Harold Okonoboh, highlighted the challenges experienced by companies in the recycling space noting that a lot of plastic is being irresponsibly disposed of by consumers.
“For the better part of it, the majority of recycling companies try to sort their plastic ethically and sustainably and in a country like Nigeria where we understand that the consumer behaviour is contrary to what you see in the western world which means you will find the majority of the plastic you want to get through source.
“The most efficient manner is for you to be able to get plastic outsource. The challenge we had is that we do not have an adequate investment in infrastructure that will enable people to dispose of waste ethically or responsibly.
“So what typically will happen is you might have a bottle of water but there are not many bins.
“The bins are not as close as they are supposed to be to you”.
Mrs Marilyn Obaisa-Osula, KPMG Advisory Services explained that one of the greatest fears expressed by CEO’s when sustainable packaging is discussed is cost and stranded assets, which are risks.