Environmental groups, including the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), have reacted to the ban of single-use plastics by the Lagos State Government, saying that it is highly commendable and should be a country-wide action.

“But how strict are the measures put on the ground to ensure that the ban is fully implemented and sustained? How does the Lagos State government plan to tackle the overt and covert opposition from the plastic industry and to guard against the smuggling of these plastics? What is the plan to drive alternative packaging of consumers’ purchases?” the environmental NGO asked in a statement issued by Kome Odhomor, HOMEF’s Media and Communications Lead.

“These are some of the issues that must be sincerely tackled if the ban is to stand and be replicated across the entire country,” the statement added.

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In his reaction, Philip Jakpor, executive director of Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI), said: “Single use plastics constitute one of the greatest harms to our environment. It is proven by science and evident before our own eyes. The decision of the Lagos State government to ban them is a right step in the right direction and if they back words with actions, this policy will unlock innumerable potentials and employment opportunities in the biodegradable sector. Other states should emulate this.”

Africa has made some strides towards the ban of single-use plastic as about 34 countries on the continent have either put laws in place for plastics ban with or without real implementation or have taken steps to initiate a ban without any regulations.

Nigeria, for example, in 2013, announced a ban on plastic bags and plastic sachet water. Penalties later attached to the ban were a three-year jail term or N500,000 fine for shops packaging customers’ goods with plastic bags. This has not been effectively implemented or has not even been implemented at all.

Other countries like South Sudan in 2015 banned plastic carrier bags use and in 2018 there was a ministerial order for the ban of single-use plastic bags.

Kenya is known to have the strictest measures (not just in Africa but in the world) to ensure compliance to the single-use plastic ban. A $40,000 fine was slapped on firms that flouted the ban by importing, manufacturing, or selling single-use plastic bags, individuals were fined $500. Kenya is on its way to becoming free from plastic pollution.

Eritrea had since 2005 established a total ban on plastic bags. In Tanzania and Rwanda where there is a total ban on all single-use plastic, tourist and travellers cannot carry plastic carrier bags into the country and plastic sachets are prohibited. In The Gambia, it is a criminal offence to import, manufacture, use or sell plastic bags.

HOMEF noted that “The announcement of the ban of single-use plastic in Lagos State is the first great step. Nigeria and indeed the entire African continent battles with the challenge of successful implementation and strict implementation is what ensures the win in the battle against plastic pollution and its attendant impacts.”

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