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No going back on Styrofoam products’ ban, Lagos

Styrofoam plates

By Stanley Onyeka, Lagos

The Lagos State Government today maintained that there is no going back on the total ban on the use and distribution of styrofoam in the State.

This was affirmed at a consultative meeting of the State Government with representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and Restaurant and Food Services Proprietor Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN), at the Alausa Secretariat.

Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, was quoted as saying that enough damage has been done already to the health of the people and the state of the environment.

He said the only moratorium that the State is willing to offer all producers and distributors of Styrofoam is to delay the commencement of enforcement of the ban by three weeks.

He said three weeks is enough time for the products already in the state to be exhausted if indeed the stockists are committed.

Wahab reminded everyone that the pronouncement on banning Styrofoam was made over three years ago but that no one has tried to enforce the law till now.

“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,” he said.

He said the number of lives that have been lost through the effect of the use of Styrofoam, the destruction of the ecosystem and aquatic lives as well as the menace brought upon the environment cannot be quantified. 

He added that the lives of the residents are far more important than the profit producers set to make for the continuous production of Styrofoam. 

He explained that the rippling effect of Styrofoam on the health care system is enormous, stressing that manufacturers’ appeal to put the ban on hold is like wanting people to take poison for a longer time to mitigate their commercial losses. 

He maintained that the havoc and destruction caused to the public utility by this product during and after the rainy season is unimaginable, emphasising that if the producers had been responsible enough to respect the law, the government would not have had to wade into the matter.

According to him, the Government is putting a human face to this Ban by giving a three-week moratorium to producers and entrepreneurs in the hospitality business and must bear in mind that Leadership and Governance involve making tough decisions. 

He said producers have a responsibility to the society, but none has taken steps to be responsible by conducting an environmental impact assessment before commencement of production for public use. 

He said the conversation about other types of single-use plastics will continue until a workable solution is reached leading to its ban.

The only moratorium that the State is willing to offer all producers and distributors of Styrofoam is to delay the commencement of enforcement of the ban by three weeks, which is enough time for the products already in the state to be exhausted if indeed the stockists are committed.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Dr. Gaji Omobolaji Tajudeen, noted that the decision to ban the product was reached following the menace caused by the use of Styrofoam in the environment, saying the product is not recyclable, and will remain the same after hundreds of years.

He added that Styrofoam is hazardous to wild and aquatic life and animals often mistake them for food. 

Also, the Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegeshin, said the State Government can no longer continue to watch the Styrofoam pack clogging the drainage channels bearing in mind that the particular plastic product is hazardous to human health. 

“It will be irresponsible for the government to sit and fold its hands because the cost of clearing those packs from tertiary, secondary and primary drains is very expensive,” he added.

Earlier, the representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Okpe Sunday, and Restaurant and Food Services Proprietor Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN), Mr. Olaoye Kazeem pleaded for leniency and for time to allow MAN and RESPAN to use existing stock before enforcement commences. 

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