The Lagos State Government declared an immediate ban on the usage and distribution of Styrofoam and other single-use plastics within the state, as disclosed by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab. In a statement personally signed by Wahab, the decision was prompted by the environmental havoc caused by single-use plastics, particularly the non-biodegradable Styrofoam.
Wahab highlighted the incessant blockage of drainage channels in the state due to the widespread and unchecked distribution and usage of Styrofoam, despite regular cleaning efforts. He emphasized that Styrofoam was a major contributor to littering on major roads and markets, creating challenges for the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in their daily operations.
Expressing concern for the coastal city’s environment, Wahab emphasized that the State Government could not stand idly by and witness ongoing environmental degradation. He directed both LAWMA and the Kick Against Indiscipline to promptly enforce the ban. The Commissioner urged these agencies to crackdown on Styrofoam production companies and distribution outlets in the state to prevent further environmental damage.
Wahab clarified that the state’s decision was based on existing laws and regulations, citing the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulation 2009. He noted that these regulations, established under the NESREA Act, explicitly prohibited single-use plastics in the country but had not been effectively enforced.
In addition to the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulation 2009, Commissioner Wahab pointed out that the ban on Styrofoam and single-use plastics aligns with the 2017 State Environmental Management and Protection Law. Section 56(I) (y) of this law empowers the government to “prevent, stop, or discontinue any activity or omission likely to cause harm or that has caused harm to human health or the environment.”
Wahab issued a stern warning to producers, distributors, and end-users of Styrofoam packs, urging them to take the ban seriously. He emphasized that failure to comply could result in severe consequences, including hefty fines and other penalties, such as the sealing of their premises.
Furthermore, the Commissioner cautioned that those involved in the production and distribution of Styrofoam could be held responsible for the financial burden of daily cleanups. They might be required to bear the costs associated with removing their products from roads and drainage channels, which amounted to tens of millions of naira on a daily basis. This was intended as a deterrent to encourage compliance with the ban and promote environmental responsibility among stakeholders in the production and use of single-use plastics.
“Our state cannot be held hostage to the economic interests of a few wealthy business owners compared to the millions of Lagosians suffering the consequences of indiscriminate dumping of single use plastics and other types of waste”, he said.
Wahab highlighted that the widely recognized outcomes encompass climate change, flooding, and diseases such as cholera. He recommended that consumers and residents refrain from supporting styrofoam packs and single-use plastics. Instead, he encouraged adopting the habit of utilizing reusable food containers and water bottles for both food and beverages.
“The convenience of single use plastic comes at a huge cost to the society. We must all make small sacrifices for our collective well-being”, Wahab earnestly pleaded.
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