The International Coastal Clean-up 2020 has come and gone, but people living in waterfront communities have been educated on the dangers of plastic waste on ocean fishes and mammals, and how to create wealth from the waste through recycling. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
From available records, Nigerian coastline is 853 kilometers long and it is made up of sandy beaches.
Apart from this, beaches are usually unkept as they are littered with all sorts of debris including plastics and satchet water waste.
A group of conservationists and non-govermental organisations recently took another step to clean-up these beach front for the purposes of conservation, communities and eco-tourism.
Led by the Chief Research Officer at the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Mrs Oyeronke Adegbile, the conservationists and volunteers from NIOMR, Coastal Conservation Society of Nigeria, Eco Restoration Foundation, FABE International Foundation, Lagos State Ministry of Environment, WEMA Bank Plc and host of others, converged on beach of Idado waterfront community in Ibeju- lekki area of Lagos State to mark the International Coastal Clean-up Day.
Governments at all levels were also called to create an enabling environment for private sector investments in waste recycling programme.
Adegbile, who doubles as International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for Nigeria, Ocean Conservancy; Chief Executive Officer, FADE International Foundation, Mrs Temitope Okunnu; and Executive Director, ECO Viridis Environmental Technology, Femi Adegoke, sensitised and trained people in the community on ways to reuse, sort, reduce and recycle their plastic waste for wealth creation.
The flagship of the day was the launch of Marine Plastic Debris Campaign in Lagos Coastal Beaches (MAPP).
Waste to wealth Adegbile lectured coastal community residents from Idado, Igando, Eleko, Solu-Alade, Museyo, Makun -Alade and Bere neighborhoods series on waste management and recycling.
She told them that they could begin to clean-up the beach, pick the plastic bottles and satchet water waste, exchange them for money or go ahead to up-cycle them into usable items.
According to her, one of the ways to prevent effect of waste disposal on sea turtles and the beach was by reducing, reusing and recycling plastics. She warned that people should not leave plastics on the beach to prevent the death of sea turtles.
“Don’t litter. When straws, plastic bags, fishing lines and other debris end up in the ocean and beaches they can be lethal to sea turtles and other marine life,” she said.
Apart from providing waste receptacles and dustbins on the beaches, she called for the provision of toilet facilities, urging that strict punishment should be given to anyone caught using the beach as a toilet.
Adegbile also called on government to improve the plastic waste infrastructure in the coastal communities and beaches She canvassed better capacity so that people could be educated and know how to sort their waste by separating plastics from glass and other debris.
She urged government to embrace sustainable use of resource, saying there was need to promote eco-tourism. Besides, she called on government to build circular economy around the Coastal communities and beaches.
“Government should fund more research on marine debris,” she said. Chief Executive Officer, FADE International Foundation, Mrs Temitope Okunnu, showed community members how to reuse their materials.
She did practical demonstration on how to up-cycle their waste materials into bottle seats, bags, tables, mirror and cups. She said: “People should see treasure in their waste. They should see wealth in waste materials. They should see pet bottles and say this can bring the next N1,000 to me.”
Executive Director, Eco Viridis Environmental Technology, Femi Adegoke, stated that waste was a resource that could be exchanged for money, adding that plastic waste recycling could be used as a tool to develop circular economy.
At every stage of waste recycling, he said there were value chains from collection, pre-processing, processing and manufacturing. He said his organisation concentrated on plastic waste, adding that it converted plastic bottles to secondary raw materials.
To achieve circular economy through waste to wealth programme, Adegoke advised government to create an enabling environment for private sector to come into the space and develop it as a business corporate entity.
He called on government to create policy that would enforce local content policy to encourage private investments Director of Sanitation, Lagos State Ministry of Environment, Dr Hassan Sani, said the state government had been supporting a lot of activities as regards waste management and coastal clean-up.
Government must influence people to have interest in plastic waste recycling project.