BACKGROUND AND EXISTING SITUATION
This National Policy on Solid Waste Management has been developed by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) as a shared national vision of how solid wastes will be managed more sustainably. It has been developed in close consultation with stakeholders.
Solid waste management is one of the most pressing environmental challenges faced by developing countries. With a population of 170 million (2006 national census), Nigeria produces a large volume of solid waste out of which less than 20% is collected through a formal system. The existing solid waste management system is affected by economic, institutional, legislative, technical and operational constraints.
The Basel Convention defines wastes as “substances or objects, which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of, or are required to be disposed of, by the provisions of national law” (Basel Convention 2011). This includes “substances or objects which are subject to disposal operations which either lead to or do not lead to the possibility of resource recovery, recycling, reclamation, direct re-use or alternative” (UNEP 2015).
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) as defined by the UN-Habitat are wastes generated by households, and wastes of a similar nature generated by commercial and industrial premises, by institutions such as schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons, and from public spaces such as streets, markets, slaughterhouses, public toilets, bus stops, parks, and gardens”. This working definition also includes most commercial and business wastes, with the exception of wastes from industrial processes and other hazardous wastes (UN-Habitat 2010:6).
Solid waste covers a host of biodegradable and non-biodegradable unwanted/used materials in a solid and semi-solid state that includes forms of household waste, refuse, construction and demolition debris, garbage, electronic waste, sludge from waste treatment plant, and other discarded materials including solids, semisolids resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations and from community activities. Majority of these substances are composed of paper, organic matter, plastics, metals, textiles, rubber and glass. Primarily, plastics, glass and most metals that makeup fractions of these wastes are non-biodegradable and thus remain a nuisance in the environment for years.
Solid waste has become a growing concern in many developing countries due to increase in economic and developmental activities driven by production and consumption patterns. In some cases, the end-stage of these production and consumption activities result in waste that are recycled and reused; however, in the majority of cases, these end-of-stage waste are discarded/disposed of. If left unchecked solid waste can lead to grave environmental and health consequences; however, if properly managed solid waste can be harnessed to create job opportunities and promote growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through wealth generation mechanisms, in addition to a host of environmental, social and aesthetic benefits that will be created.