Ms Mariam Lawani, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Greenhill Recycling Ltd., has underscored the need for Lagos residents to embrace the culture of sorting wastes for recycling to beat plastic pollution in the state.
Lawani said this on Saturday during a sensitisation and awareness exercise on recycling at Arena Shopping Complex, Oshodi Lagos.
The exercise was in commemoration of the 2023 World Environmental Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that June 5 of every year is set aside by the United Nations to celebrate World Environment Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Beat Plastic Pollution.”
NAN reports that volunteers went around the market to pick up plastics and sensitise community members on the importance of sorting and recycling waste to earn a living and ensure a clean environment.
The exercise was done in collaboration with Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA).
Lawani noted that the exercise aimed to encourage everyone to embrace the culture of recycling and adopt waste-to-wealth initiatives, saying, “waste is a currency”.
She said that plastic was not the problem but its indiscriminate disposal had led to pollution.
According to her, Lagos State generates over nine thousand tonnes of waste daily and about 20 per cent of it is plastics.
She, therefore, said it was crucial for the state government to continuously support initiatives aimed at encouraging recycling such as Greenhill Recycling, to address plastic pollution.
She, however, urged the government to do more on continuous sensitisation and awareness, to reach a wider audience rather than leave it to organisations alone.
“We are here to sensitise people on the need to sort and separate their waste and let them know that their wastes, especially plastic waste can be turned into resources.
“Apart from our volunteers today, we had encouraged members of the community within the market to bring their plastics and be rewarded with cash for it.
“So, people are going to be rewarded based on the weight of the plastics collected. We will be giving 50 to 70 Naira per kilogram.
“We hope that after our engagement today, more people will begin to embrace the culture of recycling,” she said.
Lawani added that the organisation also had initiatives aimed at providing opportunities where parents with out-of-school children can bring plastics in exchange for school fees or medical bills.
“We ensure that we have these engagements once every three months, either by organising street walks, clean up events, or when we have the opportunity to speak at events.
“The message we are passing across is that we can reduce plastic pollution by seeing these plastics as a resource through recycling,” she said.
Mr Ayobami Akinbulo, Head of Recycling, Central District, LAWMA, said that the government had made efforts and created initiatives over the years to reduce the effects of plastic pollution in the state.
He said that LAWMA, in 2020 launched the Lagos Recycling Initiative aimed at encouraging the culture of sorting their waste for recycling and making people aware of the economic benefits of waste.
“We made this initiative a smart initiative, by introducing an app ‘Pack Am App’, where people can download the app and request for pick up of their plastic waste or recyclables after being sorted.
“The stages of recycling involve sorting, collection, pre-processing, and processing. We have over 100 recyclable collectors, over 30 pre-processors, and over 15 processors.
“Greenhill serves as a collector and aggregator; they collect the plastics and give to those involved in pre-processing and processing the recyclables to valuables,” he said.
On the attitude of residents toward recycling, Akinbulo said that changing people’s mindset required continuous sensitisation and policies to strengthen the adoption or sorting and recycling of waste.
“People need to see plastics and other recyclables as a resource,” he said.
In the same vein, Mr Chinedu Onu, a representative of FBRA, urged residents to inculcate the habit of sorting their wastes from source and avoid littering the environment.
He said that FBRA was the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for the food and beverage sector, responsible for post-consumer waste.
Oni said that FBRA’s strategy to reduce plastic pollution was hinged on three major pillars.
The pillars, according to him, are the promotion of source segregation and collation of plastic; a policy drive that seeks to encourage recycling at rural and urban levels; and the strengthening of various stakeholders and major players in recycling.
He assured continued support of FBRA to partners and initiatives geared toward environmental sustainability such as Greenhill Recycling.
NAN reports that other activities at the event were games aimed at teaching resilience and teach sorting and separation from source
Solar Lamps, packs of drinks, and cash were given to winners of the game, and those with the highest number of kilograms of plastic collected. (NAN)