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THE PLASTIC CONUNDRUM: FG, Japan, others unveil study to end plastic waste pollution

The federal government, in collaboration with the government of Japan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has unveiled a study that will solve the problem of plastic waste pollution in Nigeria by providing innovative packaging and recycling technologies and alternative materials to plastics.

The research project titled “Nigeria’s Study on Available Technologies that Meet the Need in Africa to Reduce Plastic Leakages to the Environmental” was executed by the UNIDO and funded by Japan.

Speaking at the event in Abuja, Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, said the new study was part of government’s numerous actions to address, in a holistic and sustainable manner, the challenges posed to the environment and human health by plastic wastes in the country through delivery of alternatives to drive investment and sustainable development.

“Plastic pollution has become one of the gravest environmental problems confronting the global community with impact transcending national, regional and international boundaries,” the minister said.

“Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million people, generates about 1.5million tons of plastic waste every year of which less than 10 percent is recycled. The problem of plastics pollution in the country is exacerbated by inadequate waste management infrastructure, poor behavioural attitude, unskilled waste collection workforce, indeterminate dumping and burning of plastics wastes, poor awareness, inadequate funding etc.

“It is against this background that we welcome this particular study on available sustainable alternative materials to plastics.”

The Minister recalled that the Project Steering Committee, which comprised various MDAs, States Environmental Agencies, Developmental partners, the Academia and NGOs was inaugurated in February last year, commending the committee for successfully delivering its assign on time despite the disruptions in global socioeconomic by novel Covid-19 pandemic.

In his remarks, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Matsunaga Kazuyoshi reiterated the country’s commitment to assisting and supporting Nigeria and other African countries in tackling plastic waste pollution and management, pointing out that plastic waste pollution was a global problem and noting that it was comforting to see the Nigerian government and other stakeholders taking actions to end the menace.

For his part, UNIDO Country Representative and Regional Director for West Africa, Mr Jean Bankole explained that “UNIDO-Japan multi-stakeholder Cooperation Dialogue is held twice in a year.”

“The 2019 Japan Presidency for G20 Osaka Summit prioritized the global marine litter challenge and aims to implement concerted action. At the G20 Osaka Summit held in 2019, ‘Osaka Blue Ocean Vision’ to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic liter to zero by 2050 was shared. It was then announced at the summit that Japan will support developing countries’ efforts including their capacity building and infrastructure development in the area of waste management including plastic waste,” Bankole explained.

According to Bankole, the study which was conducted in Lagos and Abuja would open up a lot of opportunities in legal and regulatory frameworks, technologically, administratively and financially.

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