They argued that before imposing an outright ban, the government should have introduced measures that could prepare the public for the new development and ban the materials usage in phases.
The Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON), Nigeria Institution of Environmental Engineers (NIEE) and Lagos Recyclers Alliance (LAGRA) gave the caution on Wednesday through a statement jointly signed and made available to newsmen.
The statement was jointly signed by the WAMASON; Gbolahan Yusuf, NIEE; Yusuf Majolagbe, and LAGRA: Dr. Femi Idowu-Adegoke, and they meanwhile commended the government for taking a bold step towards eradicating environmental pollution through her ban of Styrofoams and SUPs due to their non-biodegradable nature and Environmental menace they pose through blockage of drainages and canals.
According to the statement, “While this ban is absolutely supported by us, it is however necessary to take some strategically important steps before the outright pronouncement of this ban in order to ensure its sustainability and consequently prevent the creation of new challenges that will prevent full implementation of the ban.
“The following steps are suggested: Stakeholders Engagement: Round table discussion with all Stakeholders in the waste management and environmental protection sector including the manufacturers, distributors, waste Management professionals and End users of SUPs.
“The last engagement on the Lagos State plastic policy (unveiling) was held in November 2022 and there was no mention of the ban of SUPs. Rather, to reduce the production by 30% in 2030. The National policy only states a ban of 4 categories of SUPs which take effect from May 2025.
“Therefore, the need to dialogue with critical stakeholders before taking this step is necessary to forestall creating another problem while trying to solve one. Our national economy is quite fragile right now, there is a need to be cautious and to avoid resistance.
“Putting a more direct and specific policy in place: There is yet a direct Lagos plastic policy passed into law to ban SUPs. The available policies are general and might not be able to stand the test of time. With a more direct policy, future enforcement will be easy and defaulters can be charged. This will also give us the opportunity to set a short, medium and long term agenda towards its actualization.
“Soft-landing for the economy: The population of manufacturers, importers and distributors of SUPs remains unknown yet considering its large usage, a good population of Lagos relies on SUPs for survival and this would have positively impacted the economy.
“This type of ban should be done in phases beginning with end users and finishing with the manufacturers within a stipulated period of time. This will reduce the negative impacts the ban will have on the economy and help the manufacturer to get more time to transition into another product and so on.
“Provision of alternatives: One of the best ways to institute a ban is to provide alternatives. And these alternatives should be readily available, affordable and approved by the government as acceptable. This will make the marketing of the ban product unattractive and make it very easy to ease the product out of our society.
“In all, making Lagos clean and free of environmental pollution is the dream of all of us and as a result, WAMASON, LAGRA, NIEE and other stakeholders are willing and ready to support the government in every area where it is needed in order to see this ban through to a good end.
“Once more, we appreciate the Lagos State Government for taking this important step towards curbing the menace of SUPs in our environment