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Lagos State Takes Bold Step: Bans Styrofoam and Single-Use Plastics to Promote Environmental Sustainability

The Lagos State Government has implemented a ban on the distribution and use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) and other single-use plastics within its jurisdiction. This commendable decision takes into account the detrimental impact of polystyrene on the environment. To truly enhance liveability, health, and the overall environment in the state, it is crucial for the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration to rigorously enforce this ban.

It is imperative that other states, the Federal Government, and the Federal Capital Territory swiftly follow Lagos’s example. The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, has boldly addressed climate change concerns by emphasizing that the campaign against environmental vandalism will commence with the prohibition of polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam), microbeads, carrier bags, plastic spoons, straws, and disposable cups due to their lack of recyclable potential.

The current situation in Lagos is challenging, with poor hygiene behaviors and indiscriminate waste disposal habits among residents. Reports indicate that Lagos generates 870,000 tonnes of plastic, incurring an annual cost of N7 billion for waste management. Used plastics are unsightly, littering roads, gutters, and estates. Drainage networks often become clogged due to the careless disposal of non-biodegradable items, and despite the efforts of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, roads and markets remain cluttered.

One concern, however, is the lack of adequate notice before the ban, which is typically considered best global practice when implementing significant policies that affect businesses.

The environmental impact of plastics is daunting, with approximately 400 million tonnes of plastic waste generated globally each year, and 36 percent of that being single-use plastics. Furthermore, 96 percent of single-use plastics are produced from fossil fuels. Polystyrene and plastic bags take 500 years to decompose, contributing to the pollution of oceans and endangering marine life. The health risks associated with polystyrene, containing toxic petrochemical compounds like benzene and styrene, are significant, affecting both humans and the ecosystem.

In the face of the devastating effects of climate change, the world is increasingly prioritizing environmental sustainability. Nigeria must not lag behind in safeguarding its ecology. As of 2021, Nigeria joined the top 10 countries releasing the most plastic waste into the ocean, and the World Bank predicts that Nigeria might become the largest plastic waste producer by 2025.

Nigerians must adopt habits that protect the environment, and local, state, and federal governments should actively raise awareness and incentivize environmentally friendly practices. Taking inspiration from countries like Taiwan, Kenya, Rwanda, and Canada, Nigeria has the opportunity to explore local, natural, and healthy alternatives to polystyrene and single-use plastics in food packaging. Viable alternatives such as paper, leaves, cans, bio-plastics, and glass bottles should be considered.

To achieve a sustainable environment and alleviate the strain on the climate, it is essential for the state, local, and federal governments to involve citizens in the enforcement of the plastic ban.

Plastic pollution in Nigeria is poorly studied but enough is known to urge action

In recent years, the amount of plastic in the environment has become a global concern. With the world population approaching eight billion, more and more plastic and plastic-derived products are being used and discarded. An estimated 367 million tonnes (367 billion kg) of plastic were produced in 2020 alone – about 12 tonnes (12,000kg) of plastic waste produced every second that year.

With about 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, Nigeria ranks ninth globally among countries with the highest contributions to plastic pollution. Unfortunately, over 88% of the plastic waste generated in Nigeria is not recycled. Instead, much of it ends up in water bodies – rivers, lakes, drains, lagoons and the ocean.

Waste comes in sizes ranging from macroplastic (pieces larger than 25 millimetres in diameter) to nanoplastic (less than 1,000 nanometers). It takes various forms, such as polyethylene terephthalate (used for food packaging, beverages, and personal care products), polyvinyl chloride (used in plumbing pipes, flooring, and clothing) and polystyrene (used for food packaging, laboratory materials, toys and computer housing).

Studies globally have demonstrated the adverse impacts of plastic waste on the environment. For example, it can cause intestinal damage when ingested by fishes and turtles.

Microplastic particles (less than 5mm long) have been shown to be potential vectors of disease agents. Plastic has been reported in cooking salt, stool and drinking water (tap, bottled, and sachet), with potential risks to human health.

Sustaining life in water and on land is among the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This makes it necessary to have a clear idea of where the plastic pollution is coming from, what harm it is causing and what the authorities can do about it.

Plastic waste in Nigeria

We conducted a systematic review of academic studies on plastic pollution in the environment in Nigeria. There were relatively few. As at 30 May 2021 there were only 26 such studies in Nigeria, compared to 62 peer-reviewed studies on the Arctic Ocean. Between 1987 and September 2020, there were 59 studies on the African aquatic environment.

We looked for the main sources and types of plastic waste in Nigeria and their biological effects. We identified big research gaps but were able to make some recommendations.

The studies indicate that water sachets and shopping bags are the major constituents of plastic waste in Nigeria. Educational institutions, markets and households are among the major routes. They are indirect routes of entry of plastic waste, particularly into water bodies in Nigeria.

The sources of plastic waste included tyre wear, cigarette butts and electronic waste (mobile phone components, electronics, electrical appliances). Others were fishing ropes, biosolids, cosmetics, clothing, food packs, and cellphone bags. Microplastic particles were found in some insects, snails and fish sampled from water bodies as well as in table salt (mostly in Southern Nigeria).

Research gaps

Further research is needed to establish holistic evidence of plastic pollution from all sources across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

We also need to know more about its effect on agricultural soils, air, plants, animals, drinking water and human health as well as the socio-economic and psycho-social impact.

Despite these gaps, the evidence for land-based sources indirectly polluting water bodies and the oceans is a concern.

With increasing evidence of climate change in Nigeria, such as floods, the chances for transfer of plastic waste from indirect sources into the aquatic environment are higher.

Next steps

The low level of recycling – less than 12% – and inadequate waste collection pose a huge threat to plastic pollution management in Nigeria.

Some African countries have taken steps to curb plastic waste discarded into the environment. They are gradually eliminating or banning single-use plastics. They have also made producers more responsible through buy-back programmes.

Education about plastic pollution management should start at the elementary level and continue into adulthood.

The informal sector also has a role in curbing plastic waste in the environment. Policies and incentives, backed by robust enforcement, should target plastic producing companies to encourage polymer replacement and recycling.

Researchers need up-to-date facilities and funds to evaluate plastic footprint and the risk to animals and humans. They should explore trans-disciplinary approaches to curbing plastic pollution, including using innovative technologies.

Author: Temitope O. Sogbanmu Lecturer I, Ecotoxicology and Conservation Unit, Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos for the conservation Africa.


Olayemi Samson is a Nigerian entrepreneur. He is turning plastic waste into useful things like clothing, school bags, car covers and shoes.

Samson says he is doing his part to fight pollution and support recycling while making a style statement.

A World Bank report says the city of Lagos makes about 9,000 metric tons of waste a day. Samson says part of that waste includes about 27 million plastic water bags.

“This waste, it takes takes 20 to 30 years before they decay. Where are they going to?”

Samson says that is when he came up with the idea of changing the waste into something useful.

The first step in Samson’s process is to collect the used bags from a dumpsite. Then, he washes them. After that, he can begin to sew the bags together, making car covers, school bags and other goods.

His latest recycled creation is a raincoat.

Some people cannot see past the history of Samson’s creations. Emmanuel Itiniyi of Lagos says the products are dirty.

He says, “I won’t allow my child to wear it as a cloth to go to school or a bag to go to school. It doesn’t make any sense.”

But others are more accepting, like Victor Anyaese.

“Yes I can use it because, seeing the picture, it looks lovely. But it depends on the kind of outfit I am using it for. But I can use it probably for leisure.”

Samson’s business is not profitable yet. But he hopes his work will help push young people and people in power to protect the environment.


Ade Dagunduro: ‘Not trash, but a thing of beauty’

Surrounded by art pieces in his gallery in Dugbe at the heart of Ibadan, Ade Dagunduro, 34, takes us through his creative journey. A graduate of Fine Art from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, his desire to push the boundaries of what he learned within the walls of a university spurred him to take up more training in painting and sculpture.

“School was more theoretical, less practical. When you get out of school and into the real world, you realise there is much more to learn,” he says.

Art has “changed his life”, he adds, and, now, he can help improve life a little for others by taking waste from the streets to make art.

Originally working with regular art materials such as paint, clay and wood, five years ago, Dagunduro decided to challenge himself by thinking beyond those.

“I wanted to see if I could actually think outside the box. I asked myself if I could be more creative,” he says. In his quest to do this, Dagunduro learned to manipulate waste materials like used tyres, which would otherwise be burned – a common cause of pollution in Nigeria.

His first work with waste in 2016 was an ox made out of a tyre, called The Challenge. These days, he also works with metal, ropes and plastic which he finds on the streets in his community. Sometimes, people bring materials to his studio.


Ibrahim Gbadamosi: Using waste design to make a political statement

Ibrahim Gbadamosi, 41, uses waste to make items of furniture and artworks, such as ‘About Time’, a piece made from discarded wood, metal and plastic which depicts a truck on the US flag, dumping weapons.

In 2019, while he was selling some of his artwork on the roadside around Ringroad, Ibadan, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan showed interest in Ibrahim Gbadamosi’s craft.

She invited him to present his work at the biannual conference of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, being held at the university. But, when the lecturer who invited him stepped out of the venue, he was sent away by another lecturer, who threatened to call security.

Gbadamosi, 41, says his art, which is made from all sorts of different kinds of waste, often gets a mixed reception. Some love it; others hate it.

“You will find people who will close doors in your faces, and you will find people who will open doors to you.”

In his house, which doubles as a gallery, visitors will find a sailing ship made from a tree trunk; a map of Africa made from bottle tops and foam slippers; a beaded curtain made out of strings of bottle caps.


Bank of Industry signs £100 million agreement with France to combat climate change in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Bank of Industry has signed a deal valued at $100 million with the French Development Agency for the expansion of green finance in Nigeria to tackle climate change.
The deal was signed by Managing Director, BoI, Mr Olukayode Pitan and Mr Xavier Muron, Country Director, AfD in Lagos, according to the News Agency of Nigeria. He stated the transaction was approved by AfD under its Transforming Financial Systems for Climate (TFSC) Programme with the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
More details at:


Industry players have estimated Nigeria’s recycling industry to be worth at least $2bn. Despite this potential economic opportunity, Lagos State has continued to battle the menace of plastic pollution, writes EDIDIONG IKPOTO
In an exclusive chat with The PUNCH, an environmental expert and President of the Lagos Recyclers Association, Femi Idowu-Adegoke, said the menace of plastic pollution that has perennially plagued Lagos State has been largely down to lack of willingness on the part of residents to adopt recommended waste disposal means that have been prescribed by the relevant authorities.
According to him, Nigeria’s recycling industry has been estimated to be worth a staggering $2bn but has struggled to live up to this lofty estimation due to the menace of indiscriminate disposal of waste and poor orientation of Lagos residents on how to work with professionals to convert this liability to a viable economic opportunity.
More details at:


Here is the inspiring story of some Nigerian women who are turning waste into wealth under a waste-to-wealth programme initiated by the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Adamawa state. Where you see trash, Aishatu Muhammed sees treasure. She is part of a group in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola that has trained more…”

Where you see trash, Aishatu Muhammed sees treasure. She is part of a group in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola that has trained more than 300 women to recycle plastic waste into mats, bags and other colourful accessories, Reuters reported.

The Waste to Wealth program was started in 2012 by the American University of Nigeria.

Also now called Waste-to-Wealth and Yola EcoSentials (YES), the programme produces beautiful handicraft.

A sales exhibition by the women held on November 4 last year at the university.
Items exhibited include laptop bags, jotters, table mats, handbags, key holders, decorative bowls, penholders, mats, baskets, and purses.

This job has really helped me. Now I can pay my children’s school fees, I can buy food for my family and also help my relatives through this job.”

“We are working towards doing the right thing, so whenever we see plastic bags we pick them up; it has become a valuable thing now. Because of us there are few plastic bags in the streets compared to how it was before. The program has really helped.”

The bags sell for between N1000 to and N12,000, depending on size and quality.

The programme coordinator, Raymond Obindu said: “We’ve seen a single woman alone, make over 1.5 to 2 million Naira alone because she was extremely good; she has bought a land, she’s got a computer, she has trained her children in school, so we’ve seen the economic benefits the women are having so the money spreads that way.”

Obindu also said that the essence of AUN’s Waste-to-Wealth initiative is to change lives and clean up the environment.

“Plastic and other waste litter the environment; they don’t degrade or decompose. This exhibition is to say that these things can also create income.”

Women in Yola have been trying to revamp their economy after the seven-year campaign by Boko Haram militants disrupted their lives.

Source: Osun defender

Explaining Lagos’ campaign against single-use plastics in layman’s terms

During the Yuletide season in 2021, one of the common features of the many photos and videos shared on social media by Nigerians was the sight of littered plastic bags and bottles on the floors of various enjoyment spots.

While there’d definitely be cleaners at these places to collect the wastes at the end of the day, the sight just shows the lackadaisical attitude of Nigerians towards the environment. And perhaps, the city of Lagos, being the most populous state in the country, is the most affected by this attitude.

Not many people know that open burning of plastic waste, consumption of plastic-contaminated seafood and creation of harmful microplastics can badly affect human health. But the purpose of this piece is not to use big biochemical terms in explaining how materials that are non-biodegradable can really affect us.

The goal here is to explain the key information being passed by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) who, sometime last week, intensified its campaign against the use of plastics among its staff, as a follow-up of a campaign in February 2020, when the use of plastic bags and bottles were banned within its office premises.

In its recent move, the agency decried the increasing rate of single-use plastics, pet bottles, polystyrene and other non-biodegradable wastes including “polly” and nylon bags in different parts of the state. Here are three major takeaways from the advocacy, explained in terms that can easily be grasped.

Plastic is harmful to the environment and to human health

The biochemistry of plastics will probably bore you, but the long and short of the matter is that the little container you recently drank or ate from and threw away from the car window into the canal, could come back to haunt you and the rest of us in future.

The indiscriminate disposal of plastics on the streets actually affects more than the aesthetics of the environment. The waste often ends up in waterways (e.g the lagoon), where the materials used in making the plastic product slowly breaks down and the fishes in the water get to ingest them. Then humans who eventually eat these fishes become the most affected in the long run.

The knowledge of this would spur everyone to be mindful of how they use and dispose plastic materials as well as other wastes that behave in a similar way.

You can get paid for proper disposal of plastics

Instead of throwing your used plastics away for nothing, you can actually get some monetary returns by handing them over to appropriate authorities for reuse.

At a recent event, a Lagos bigwig said, “The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources has a Plastic Waste Management Policy in place, we also have a recycling bank for plastic wastes within its premises where people can exchange their plastic wastes for money.

“So we are not just advocating for a cleaner environment through our policy on plastic waste management, but we have also put a reward system in place to encourage willful compliance.”

Imagine paying N200 for a pet drink but having the opportunity to get some change in return if you could “dispose” of the bottle at a designated area. You get satisfaction from what you consume and you also get some money back for the waste bottle.

So the Lagos campaign is asking residents to cut down on the use of plastics, and going a step further to encourage them with appealing measures, to the end that the rate of some avoidable loss of lives caused by polluted environments can be reduced.

There is an impending total ban on the use of plastics in Lagos

At this point, it is quite important that we don’t get too comfortable with using plastics because, soon and very soon, there could be a ban placed on the material across Lagos. It probably sounded impossible, but it might interest you to know that all members of staff of the aforementioned Lagos agency are no longer using plastics especially in office premises.

There has been an official ban on single-use plastics among staff, and the idea is that, if successfully implemented among the agency staff, the advocacy would be introduced for emulation by other ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of the state, and eventually the entire state.

“This pilot scheme  would serve as a blueprint and guide towards government policy thrust on a total ban on single-use plastic and further help in securing the environment and leave a better legacy for future generations,” a statement read.

The world is already aware of the damage that the  production, distribution and litter of plastics can cause, hence in countries like Canada, Norway and even Rwanda, residents are expected to go for shopping along with their reusable bags, and are made to pay if they demand for an extra, just to discourage the influx of plastics into the environment.

And since the whole world is obviously in the fight to reduce the impacts of single-use plastic products, Nigeria cannot be left out. Eventually, the war against the pollution will be fully taken to the streets. So, brace up now by opting for reusable alternatives!

By Ben Ugbana

A graduate student of environmental management at the University of Lagos, Ugbana is a Lagos-based media professional and environment enthusiast


Like every other country, Nigeria’s waste collectors with support from organisations like Nestle are providing solutions by picking them and also making a living from them. These wastes include packaging materials like water sachets and plastic bottles among others.

According to a 2018 report by the United Nations, 11.2 billion tons of solid waste is collected every year, contributing to about per cent of global greenhouse emissions.

The World Bank, also in 2018, reported that without swift action, global waste will rise by 7 per cent on current levels by 2050.

With these scary figures, countries including Nigeria are working towards tackling the challenge by reducing, reusing and recycling them, making waste generation and management as sustainable as possible.

In Nigeria, the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, FBRA, are partnering with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Lagos State Recyclers Association (LAGRA) to tackle the problem.

The Alliance, with a current membership of 28 organisations, was established in 2018 as the industry-coalition Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) for enhancing the collection and recovery of post-consumer packaging material in the Food and Beverage sector.

Within the last four years, the Alliance in partnership with stakeholders in the waste value chain in Lagos state has impacted over 50 communities to educate and create awareness on recycling, facilitated the training of 3,000 waste pickers and has supported the collection of over 25,000 metric tonnes of recyclables for recovery to productive use through a partnership with over 12 packaging waste aggregators.

FBRA has also partnered with several NGOs to educate children in schools on the need for responsible disposal including recycling and has provided 75 recycling collection giant bins in schools, public spaces, and communities.

The focus is for Alliance member companies to contribute funds to support the waste management operations of the waste ecosystem through the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the packaging sector.
Speaking at the third anniversary of the Lagos Recycling Initiative, the Executive Secretary of the Alliance, Onaghise Agharese emphasised the importance of source segregation atthe point of generation within homes and organisations to enhance the quality of the recyclables harvested.
She also emphasised the need for collaborative efforts of all relevant stakeholders to implement an effective waste management system whilst pledging the commitment of the Alliance member companies to support more projects.
The MD of LAWMA, Ibrahim Odumboni also called on Food and Beverage organisations to join the efforts of the Alliance and informed all that the Agency is set to implement the Adopt the Bin Initiative where all households are expected to use the blue recycling bins to sort their waste, call for pick-up through PAKAM app and a LAGRA member in their vicinity will pick up their recyclables for an incentive. Dr. Femi Idowu Adegoke, the Chairman of the Lagos Recyclers Association (LAGRA) encouraged all to join the ZerWastete campaign through continuous public education, attitudinal and behavioural change towards minimizing (reducing), reusing, recovering, repurposing (upcycling and downcycling) and recycling for an efficient and sustainable circular economy in Lagos.
He also provided a commitment that its members under Lagos Recyclers Association LAGRA are available toff-take recyclables for all households who have to segregate their waste and books for collection through the PAKAM App.

PAKAM App is a technology application that can be downloaded from the m play store that connects households to collectors nearest to them to enable them to trade in their separated waste for incentives or cash. FBRA hereby encourages residents of Lagos state to adopt waste separation from source and recycling thereby earning rewards and incentives from recycling through the PAKAM App for a cleaner Lagos and a better planet for us all.

SOURCE: Vanguard News