Plastic pollution in Nigeria: whose job is it to clean up the mess?

Take a stroll or drive by the streets of most Nigerian cities, and you will note plastic waste in all places. The nation’s rivers, lakes and ocean are additionally stuffed with discarded plastic. Nigeria is estimated to generate about 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. Plastic accounts for 15% of the full waste generated in Lagos State.

The state of affairs is more likely to worsen as Nigeria’s inhabitants grows, from greater than 220 million folks now to an anticipated 401 million by the tip of 2050.

The manufacturing of plastic is rising too. Dangote Refinery, the biggest petrochemical refinery in Africa, is beginning operations in Nigeria within the first quarter of 2023. Except for refining gasoline, the plant may also produce plastic products.

Who ought to clear up?

The query arises as to who’s liable for cleansing up the plastic waste within the Nigerian setting.

Some argue that the onus is on authorities to make and implement policies and regulations. Others argue that residents should take accountability within the spirit of environmental citizenship.

However what in regards to the producers, who, too typically, take no accountability when the plastic they produce find yourself as waste within the setting?

In a recent article, I explored how firms can scale back plastic waste in Nigeria in the event that they settle for all the weather of company social accountability. Doing so additionally promotes sustainable growth. The UN defines this as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. So company social accountability advantages the businesses too.

Dimensions of company social accountability

Corporate social responsibility is the concept that an organization ought to play a optimistic function locally and take into account the environmental and social impacts of enterprise selections.

For the reason that mid-Nineteen Fifties, many of the world’s main enterprise organisations have come to agree that firms have financial, authorized, moral and philanthropic or discretionary obligations.

Financial accountability is a dedication to creating earnings, working effectively and being aggressive. Specializing in this alone can result in environmental issues until it considers the long run. A method for financial accountability and environmental sustainability to fulfill is by assigning an financial worth to waste.

Obligation signifies that an organization should adjust to authorities legal guidelines and rules. These ought to embrace guidelines that shield the setting.

Moral accountability means being honest, in accordance with societal expectations. For instance, it means an organization doing its fair proportion to stop and clear up waste.

Philanthropic accountability is one thing additional an organization can do to make the world a greater place. Many firms get entangled in volunteering, empowerment and help of progressive programmes to assist folks. An instance can be coordinating voluntary neighborhood motion to wash up waste.

Long run options

In Nigeria, most firms give attention to the philanthropic dimension of company social accountability. For instance, they organise voluntary cleanup campaigns in communities, and advocate for correct disposal of waste. However it is a short-term answer. As big quantities of plastic waste proceed to be deposited within the setting.

Corporations additionally are inclined to practise “green-washing” – claiming that their merchandise are environmentally pleasant or have environmental advantages.

These responses ignore the financial, moral and authorized dimensions of company social accountability with regard to the setting.

I recommend that if all dimensions are practised correctly, the actions of the Nigerian plastics trade received’t be a risk. As an alternative they are going to conform with a few of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: combating local weather change; defending marine animals; sustainable setting; and partnerships.

Plastic worth chain

Policymakers, producers, producers, multinational firms and different stakeholders should work collectively to fight plastic air pollution in Nigeria.

This begins with assigning a financial worth to plastic at every stage of its life cycle, together with sorting, assortment, and recycling. Disposal practices, monitoring and enforcement, in addition to value administration, shouldn’t be neglected.

Producers, producers and multinational firms must also scale back plastic waste as a part of their manufacturing processes. The regulators ought to maintain them accountable to eradicate plastic waste within the setting. This coverage is named “prolonged producer accountability”.

The idea has already been carried out in some developed international locations, together with Germany. It has introduced enhancements within the reuse and recycling financial system.

Nigeria adopted the extended producer responsibility coverage by its Nationwide Environmental Requirements and Laws Enforcement Company in 2014. But it surely has not but been totally carried out in all Nigerian states. Therefore, reflecting the present state of plastic waste air pollution.

If firms in Nigeria’s plastic and packaging trade can work collectively to realize a excessive normal of environmental sustainability, we will rightly say they’re practising company social accountability.The Conversation

Kehinde Allen-Taylor, Researcher, Technical University Braunschweig

This text is republished from The Conversation beneath a Inventive Commons license. Learn the original article.


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