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NIGERIA: ban on single-use plastics in Lagos State

Lagos State in southwestern Nigeria, which includes the country’s huge economic capital with almost 20 million inhabitants, has banned the use of Styrofoam and other single-use plastics on January 21, 2024. The measure is aimed at reducing pollution.
Cleaning up single-use plastics costs tens of millions of naira a day, and the Lagos authorities refuse to sacrifice environmental protection to the economic interests of a few wealthy business owners. Single-use plastic and Styrofoam (a form of polystyrene) are now banned in this state of some 22 million inhabitants in south-western Nigeria.
Fines will be imposed on companies that fail to comply with this measure, which aims to curb the impact of plastic on the environment. Street vendors and markets in Lagos use polystyrene containers to package food and products. This packaging is a health hazard for consumers, and its constant use has led to clogged roads and blocked sewers in the city, increasing the risk of flooding and threats to biodiversity.
The challenge of enforcing anti-plastic laws in Africa
While welcoming this important decision, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Greenpeace Afrique points out that enforcing it and repairing the existing damage is a monumental task. « We urge the Lagos State Government not only to enforce the ban effectively, but also to strengthen plastics policies and regulations, » says Hellen Kahaso Dena, Pan-African Plastics Project Manager at Greenpeace Africa.
Out of 54 African countries, 34 have either passed a law banning plastics and implemented it, or have passed a law with the intention of implementing it. Of these, 16 have either completely banned plastic bags or partially banned them, without yet introducing regulations to enforce these bans. Compared to the rest of the world, the continent seems to be doing an excellent job, yet the reality on the ground is different.
In Cameroon, where the ban was adopted in 2014, covering the import, production and sale of single-use plastic items, almost nothing has changed in people’s habits. In this Central African country, over 6 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced every year. Smugglers transiting through the north from Nigeria continue to supply the market with single-use plastic. Despite this, the Cameroon government has reiterated its willingness to work with key players to find « innovative solutions ».
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