Titus Olowokere, President of the U.S.-Nigeria Trade Council (USTC), has voiced his concerns over the economic ramifications of the Lagos State government’s ban on single-use plastic containers.
The ban, announced on Sunday, has stirred debates on striking a delicate balance between environmental conservation and economic sustainability.
Olowokere, though acknowledged the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, raised concerns about the potential adverse effects on the Lagos state economy.
In his statement, he urged the government to carefully weigh the economic impact of the ban and collaborate with stakeholders to implement sustainable waste management strategies.
“Lagos state relies heavily on plastic manufacturing and packaging industries that employ thousands of people. This ban directly affects not only industry workers but also countless small-scale entrepreneurs who depend on the plastic sector for their livelihoods,” noted Olowokere.
The USTC proposed a comprehensive and measured approach to address the environmental concerns without causing economic distress. Olowokere suggested alternatives to an immediate blanket ban, emphasizing the importance of public awareness campaigns and educational programs about sustainable waste management practices.
“We firmly believe that this ban will have detrimental effects on Lagos state economy and exacerbate the unemployment crisis. We urge the government to reconsider this decision and take into account alternative solutions that promote entrepreneurship, sustainable consumption, and waste management,” said Olowokere.
The council also advocated engaging with industry stakeholders to develop and adopt eco-friendly packaging alternatives, such as biodegradable materials, to minimize the environmental impact of packaging waste.
Olowokere spoke of the need for investment in recycling infrastructure, stating, “The establishment and expansion of recycling facilities will create new job opportunities and support the growth of a sustainable recycling industry in Nigeria.”
In terms of entrepreneurship development, the USTC urged supporting entrepreneurs to invest in alternative packaging materials and innovative waste management solutions. Collaborative efforts between the government, private sector entities, and civil society organizations were encouraged to develop and implement waste management projects that drive entrepreneurship and job creation.
The Lagos government on Sunday announced a ban on the use of styrofoam and single-use plastic with immediate effect.
While the USTC highlighted the economic concerns, the Lagos State Government remained resolute in its commitment to the ban, citing the serious environmental threat posed by non-biodegradable properties of styrofoam and single-use plastics, which block drainage channels in the state.
The Lagos State Government, in announcing the ban, said “Our state cannot be held hostage to the economic interests of a few wealthy business owners compared to the millions of Lagosians suffering the consequences of indiscriminate dumping of single-use plastics and other types of waste.”
Although the ban seems to be in synergy with growing global best practices on single-use plastics, the call for a measured and inclusive policy-making process aims to balance environmental concerns with the economic well-being of citizens and businesses in Lagos.