Tuesday, February 7, 2023

FG Adopts Circular Economy Model To Address Plastic Issues

UNIDO FME
The Minister of Environment, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi (fourth from left) flanked by other stakeholders during the inauguration in Abuja.

The Federal Government said it has adopted a circular economy model to address plastic issue challenges which have endangered human health and the environment in the country.

The Minister of Environment, Barr.  Mohammed Abdullahi disclosed this at the inauguration of the project steering committee (PSC) for the project “promoting sustainable plastics values chains through circular economy practices” at the ministry headquarters in Abuja. 

The ministry, in collaboration with the Government of Japan and Implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) set up the project to address the gaps affecting plastic waste.

“The misuse of plastic and poor management of its wastes pose danger to human health and the environment, as they leach toxic chemical constituents such as endocrine disrupting chemicals which have been linked to infertility, diabetes, prostrate/breast cancer, into foods, drinks and the environment. 

“It is in response to these challenges that the Federal Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, took steps to address the plastic issue holistically by adopting a circular economic model.

“In this wise, we have developed national policies on solid waste and plastic waste management to promote environmental protection, resource and energy efficiency and circular economy practices and enhance the conservation of natural resources through sustainable production and consumption are currently implementing community-based waste management projects with an emphasis on recycling.

“I am particularly happy that the project is taking off at a time the attention of the global community is focused on negotiating the establishment of a legally binding instrument for the environmentally sound management of plastic throughout their entire lifecycle.”

“It might also interest you to know that the Government of Japan funded a study on available sustainable alternative materials for plastic, innovative packaging and recycling technologies that meet market needs in Africa to reduce plastic leakages to the environment, in Nigeria. The study. conducted in 2021and implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the ministry, revealed the low level of recycling activities in the country. Only 45 per cent of waste are collected; 80 per cent of plastic waste goes to dumpsite while only 10 per cent is recycled. Alternative materials to plastics are yet to be introduced in the market and recognition of bioplastics is low, amongst others.

“To kick-start the implementation of the project, this multi-stakeholder project steering committee was established to provide technical assistance and guidance to the project towards achieving the aims and objectives. Membership of the committee comprises representatives from the following organisation.”

In his goodwill message, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, disclosed that the steering committee will oversee the plastic circular economy project by monitoring the project’s implementation progress, validating its overall direction and the work plan, and assisting in mobilising resources required for project implementation where necessary.

“The plastic circular economy project, building on the study results conducted in Nigeria, aims to contribute to Nigeria’s inclusive and sustainable industrial development and reduce leakage of plastics to the environment through the promotion of plastic circular economy principles and practices to be integrated into effective implementation of plastic management and strengthening plastic value chains,

“This is the first project in which UNIDO has applied the concept of the Plastic Circular economy to support policy implementation on plastic waste management in Nigeria. UNIDO has succeeded in bridging the gap between the diverse actors in Nigeria and Japan, and it is hoped that the knowledge and experience of UNIDO, Japan’s long-time development cooperation partner and the UN’s leading agency in the field of Plastic Circular economy, will be of use in the field of marine plastics.

“In addition to contributing to environmental conservation, this project is multifaceted and will contribute to economic growth by contributing to solving the problem of unemployment in the coastal areas, which is considered to be the root cause of the piracy problem: and promoting fisheries in the coastal areas by preserving the marine environment in the Gulf of Guinea. Through this project, Japan hopes to contribute to the enhancement of the value of the Gulf of Guinea, the development of the blue economy, and ultimately the prosperity of Nigeria,” Kazuyoshi added.

UNIDO country representative and regional director for West Africa, Mr Jean Bakole in his goodwill message stated that plastic litter is a major global environmental problem. According to the World Bank, plastic waste accounts for 12 per cent of the total amount of municipal solid waste generated globally; However, only 14 per cent is collected for recycling while only 9 per cent is recycled.

“Plastic litter is a major global environmental problem. Its production drastically increased by more than 20-fold between 1964 and 2015, with an annual output of 322 million metric tonnes. This figure is expected to double by 2035 and quadruple by 2050 if no global action is taken. Over the years, the mismanagement of plastic waste is not only contaminating the land ecosystem but also being released into the marine environment, thereby polluting it and threatening the bio-diversity while also negatively impacting the blue economy. Mismanaged plastics and ineffective waste management is also a source of GHG emissions. According to the World Bank, plastic waste accounts for 12 per cent of the total amount of municipal solid waste generated globally, however, only 14 per cent is collected for recycling while only 9 per cent is recycled.

“As the most populated nation with the largest GDP in the African continent, Nigeria’s plastic waste problem is on the increase, this is based on its increased consumption from 578,000 tonnes of plastics in 2007 to about 1,250,000 tonnes. Therefore, the per capita plastic consumption has grown by 5 per cent annually from 4.0kg to 6.5kg respectively. It is estimated that each citizen would consume about 7.5kg of plastics per year.

“Nigeria has continued to display a leadership position in Africa by developing various initiatives and partnerships at combating plastics and solid wastes pollution. To reiterate the importance of a coordinated effort, during the United Nations Environment UNEA 5 and the first Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee INC1 just concluded in Uruguay, it was unanimously agreed to work towards developing a global convention on plastics.”

Bankole further disclosed that the UNIDO has entered into partnership with the government of Nigeria on various initiatives which revolve around the development of the National Policy on Solid Waste Management 2020, the National Policy on Plastics Waste Management 2020, the Circular Economy Assessment on Plastics 2021 and studies on available sustainable alternative materials to plastics and innovative packaging and recycling technologies that meet market needs in Africa to reduce plastics leakages to the environment.

“UNIDO is also participating as a board or committee member in various national plastic projects, involved in co-organising stakeholders’ workshops and the development, signing and eventual starting of the implementation of this project. UNIDO will be taking over the co-chairmanship of the Nigeria Circular Economy Working Group next year. UNIDO is also actively collaborating with donors, development partners and national stakeholders to effectively support Federal and State governments to manage plastics, solid waste and pollution, etc.

“The focus on plastic pollution and management is apt and relevant to the global discussion on circular economy and sustainable development.”

Oluchi Okorafor
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