The U.S.-Nigeria Trade Council USA says the Lagos State Government’s sudden ban on single-use plastic containers, though well-intentioned, could have adverse economic effects.
Mr Titus Olowokere, President of the council, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday.
He urged the government to consider the potential economic impact of the ban and work with stakeholders to implement sustainable waste management strategies that would support entrepreneurship, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.
Olowokere said that the council recognised the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability but the abrupt prohibition of single-use plastics could be problematic.
“We firmly believe that this ban will have detrimental effects on Lagos State economy and exacerbate the unemployment crisis. We urge the government to reconsider this decision and take into account alternative solutions that promote entrepreneurship, sustainable consumption, and waste management,” Olowokere said.
The council said that Lagos relied heavily on plastic manufacturing and packaging industries that employed thousands of people across the state.
“This ban directly affects not only industry workers but also countless small-scale entrepreneurs who depend on the plastic sector for their livelihoods. Furthermore, from an economic standpoint, the ban imposes an enormous financial burden on businesses, particularly Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), as they are forced to find alternatives or invest in costly infrastructure to comply with the regulation.
“This additional expenditure, coupled with the already challenging business environment, will impede growth and hinder economic development, not only in Lagos, but in Nigeria as a country,” Olowokere said.
He explained that the council was suggesting a more comprehensive approach that balanced environmental concerns, economic sustainability, and job creation.
He said that rather than a sudden blanket ban, the council had some advice on solutions to mitigate the negative impact on both the environment and the economy, promote entrepreneurship and pave the way for a greener Nigeria.
He said that the first one bordered on public awareness and education.
Olowokere said that this entailed implementing public awareness campaigns and educational programmes about sustainable waste management practices.
This, according to him, will promote responsible consumer behaviour and support the transition towards eco-friendly alternatives.
He said that the state could also engage with industry stakeholders for the development and adoption of eco-friendly packaging alternatives, such as biodegradable or compostable materials.
Olowokere said this could help to minimise the environmental impact of packaging waste.
He said that the council also advocated investment in recycling infrastructure.
“The establishment and expansion of recycling facilities will create new job opportunities and support the growth of a sustainable recycling industry in Nigeria.”
In terms of entrepreneurship development, he said that encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs to invest in alternative packaging materials and innovative waste management solutions would stimulate economic growth and create new business opportunities.
“USTC advocates for collaboration between the Lagos State government, private sector entities, and civil society organisations to develop and implement waste management projects that drive entrepreneurship and job creation,” he added.
Olowokere said that the council remained committed to fostering mutually beneficial trade relations between the United States and Nigeria, while advocating for sustainable economic development and environmental conservation.
NAN reports that the Lagos state government had on Sunday announced a ban on the use of styrofoam and single use plastic with immediate effect.
The Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tokunbo Wahab, issued the ban on behalf of the government.
Wahab said that the nonbiodegradable properties of the products constitute serious environmental threat as styrofoam and other single use plastics block drainage channels in the state.
Reactions have continued to trail the development.