National Policy on Plastic Waste Management in Nigeria

Download National Policy on Plastic Waste Management

Plastic is a material used daily by all and sundry. Its use has become pronounced due to its durability, low cost, lightweight and ease of production. Plastic is a material consisting of any wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are malleable and so can be moulded into solid objects. They have prevailed over traditional materials, such as wood, stone, horn and bone, leaves, leather, metal, glass, and ceramic, in some products previously left to natural matter.

However, plastics in Nigeria are currently discarded in ways that are harmful and potentially hazardous to man and his environment. The million tonnes of plastic that litter our streets, clog up our rural and urban drains leading to flooding incidents, contaminate the soil affecting farmers and livestock’s, and littering the oceans every year threatening biodiversity and human health, when openly burnt on dumpsites inadvertently releasing dioxins and furans thus increasing public health challenges and greenhouse gas emission.

There is therefore an urgent need to tackle Plastic Waste as an environmental problem that today cast a long shadow over the production, use and consumption of plastics through circular economy initiatives to drive investment in the right direction.

Rethinking and improving the functioning of such a complex value chain requires efforts and greater cooperation by all its key players, from plastics producers to wholesalers, retailers, consumers and recyclers.

The plastics industry is very important to the Nigerian economy and increasing its sustainability can bring new opportunities for innovation and job creation, in line with the objectives of the sustainable development goals.

Nigeria formulated its first National Policy on the Environment in 1991 with subsequent revisions. The National Policy on Environment imbibed a holistic framework to guide the management of the natural and environmental resources of the country. As a framework document, it prescribes sectoral and cross-sectoral strategic policy statements and actions for the management of the country’s resources for sustainable development.

In addition to this, the National Policy on Solid Waste Management was developed to govern the waste sector. This National Policy on Plastic Waste Management derives its strength from these existing policies need to drive resources efficiency, cleaner production taking cognizance of the lifecycle of plastic and the fundamental obligation for the protection of the environment as stated in Section 20 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which provides that the “State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria”.

In addition, Nigeria is party to several international treaties and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (such as the Basel Convention, the MARPOL Convention, and United Nations Climate Change Convention among others) governing environmental issues and most recently the sustainable development goals. It is on the combined thrust of these instruments that the National Policy on Plastic Waste Management rests. The key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievable with the development of a national policy on plastic waste management are Goals 3, 6, 9,11,12,14 and 17.

This policy document lays the foundations for a circular economy when it comes to plastics, where the design and production fully comply with the 5R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle and Recovery). This will deliver greater added value in Nigeria and boost innovation. It will curb plastic pollution and its adverse impact on lives and the Nigerian environment.