The Lagos State Government says there is no going back on the total ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam in the state.
The Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tokunbo Wahab, said this at a consultative meeting with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Restaurant and Food Services Proprietors Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN), on Thursday in Lagos.
Wahab noted that enough damage had been done to the health of the people and the environment through the usage of styrofoam in the state.
“The only soft landing which the state is willing to offer all producers and distributors of styrofoam is to delay the enforcement of the ban by three weeks,” he said.
He said that three weeks were enough time for the products already in the state to be exhausted, if indeed the stockists were committed.
Wahab noted that the pronouncement on the ban of styrofoam was made over three years but was not enforced.
“You will all agree with me that for over three years this conversation has been ongoing, waiting for when the big bold step of enforcement will be taken,” Tokunbo said.
According to him, the number of lives that have been lost through the the use of styrofoam, the destruction of the ecosystem and aquatic lives as well as the menace brought upon the environment cannot be quantified.
“The lives of the residents are far more important than the profit the producers will make for the continuous production of styrofoam,” Wahab said.
According to him, the manufacturers appeal to put the ban on hold is like wanting people to take poison for a longer time in order to reduce their (manufacturers) commercial losses.
He maintained that the havoc and destruction caused to public utility by styrofoam products during and after the raining season was unimaginable.
Wahab stated that if the producers had been responsible enough to respect the law, government would not have to wade into the matter.
According to him, government is putting a human face to this ban by giving three weeks moratorium to producers and entrepreneurs in the hospitality business.
He urged them to bear in mind that leadership and governance involves making tough decisions.
He said producers have a responsibility to the society, adding that none of them had taken steps to conduct an environmental impact assessment before commencement of production for public use.
He said the conversation about other types of single use plastics would continue until a workable solution was reached leading to their ban.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Dr Gaji Tajudeen, noted that the decision to ban the product was reached following the menace caused by the use of styrofoam in the environment.
He said that the product was not recyclable and would remain the same after 100 years.
He added that styrofoam was hazardous to wild and aquatic life and animals often mistake them for food.
Also, speaking, the Managing Director, Lagos Waste Management Authority ( LAWMA), Dr Muyiwa Gbadegeshin, said the government could no longer continue to watch styrofoam packs clog the drainage channels.
Gbadegeshin said that the plastic product was dangerous to human health.
“It will be irresponsible for government to sit and fold its hands because the cost of clearing those packs from tertiary, secondary and primary drains is very expensive,” Gbadegesin said.
The representatives of MAN, Mr Okpe Sunday and REFSPAN, Mr Olaoye Kazeem, pleaded for leniency and for time to allow them to use existing stock before enforcement.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government on Jan. 21, 2024 announced a ban on the use and distribution of styrofoam and other single- use plastics with immediate effect.