As Lagos population grows daily with attendant increase in waste generation, experts recently met to chart ways on how best the state can attain a circular economic status through strategic management of waste generation. MURITALA AYINLA writes
Going by the global population trends in the 21st century, there is increased migration from rural to urban areas of the world and rapid population growth in urban centres which invariably is leading to the upsurge of waste generation across the city.
According to the United Nations in its “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables” publication, Nigeria, with the population of 182.2 million people, generates 43.2 million tonnes of waste annually and by 2025 with a population of 233.5 million (according to populationpyramid. net figure), country is expected to be generating an estimated 72.46 million tonnes of waste annually at a projected rate of 0.85 kg of waste/capita/day.
If that is the projection for Nigeria, one can only wonder what Lagos will be like, the nation’s commercial centre’s population and the amount of waste to be generated in the state by 2025. But to migrate the state from linear economy or otherwise known as take-make-dispose extractive industrial model, the state government in conjunction with experts,
is leaving no stone unturned in embracing an economy that uses a systems-focused approach and involves industrial processes and economic activities that are restorative or regenerative by design, enable resources used in such processes and activities to maintain their highest value for as long as possible.
Hence, the state government, through the Ministry of the Environment & Water Resources, pioneered by one of its agencies – the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Ministry of Economic Planning & Budget, pioneered by one of its offices – Lagos State Resilience Office (LASRO) and anchored by the implementing consultant,
Nondunna Limited, came up with a workshop share ideas on the circular economy. With a circular economy, the government aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, and systems (including business models).
It reduces material use, redesigns materials to be less resource intensive, and recaptures “waste” as a resource to manufacture new materials and products. Speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement to discuss and facilitate transition into circular economy in an environmentally friendly and resilient society, the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, Dr Dolapo Fasawe and the Chief Resilience Officer, Lagos State Resilience Office, (LASRO), Folayinka Dania, said that efforts are on top gear to ensure that about 14,000 tonnes of waste generated daily in Lagos are put into good use.
The experts, who spoke on the theme of the stakeholders’ engagement titled: “Facilitating the Transition into Circular Economy and the Building of an Environmentally Resilient Lagos State”, said that plastic is not a totally bad product but the improper disposal of it is what causes the harm to our environment as we are experiencing today.
According to Dr. Fasawe, Nigeria is accustomed to a ‘linear economy’, which she described as one way, and that a ‘circular economy’ would allow everyone to put everything to good use by ensuring that waste is not wasted.
She said: “It is an economy where, from conception, you’re already thinking about sustainability, and you want to know what your end-product would be. Plastic is not totally a bad thing, but when it is not properly disposed of, it clogs our drainage system and causes flooding.
So, we are saying when you use plastic, reuse it, and recycle it. You can use it up to ten times, and there are off-takers in this country; if you need a list, come to LASEPA. “ On her part, Dr. Dania said the circular economy is about reducing waste to the barest minimum.
She said that the programme is around mobilizing stakeholders to key into the state’s agenda on a circular economy because it is not something the government can do alone.
“All stakeholders must be involved in this process and this program is about facilitating that transition, telling people what it is we plan to do as a state and getting their insights and contributions on how the state can do this better and ways that we can work together.
“What we are trying to do is tilted towards ensuring that no waste gets to a dumpsite but as it is first things first, we are saying can we reduce plastic waste which would reduce waste in landfills, flooding and some emissions that goes into the atmosphere from burning of these plastics and overall a clean air for the city and a healthy living environment for all.
“We have launched an Eko Circular podcast to educate people on circular economy and what they can do. We have equally launched a Lagos circular challenge which is supposed to help people think about how they can help Lagos to become more environmentally friendly in terms of reducing waste,” she said.
On her part, the Executive Director, Nondunna Limited, Ms. Nonny Ugboma, said there is huge potential in embracing a circular economy, saying scavengers on Lagos dumpsites are making a living just by sorting out reusable items from waste and selling them.
According to her, Lagos, with a population of over 20 million, is the right place to promote circularity, saying millions of naira worth of waste materials that can be used as raw materials for other products is being wasted because they are being discarded in a linear manner.
She said: “Essentially, our focus is on four deliverables – we are embarking on producing a circularity gap report by working with different agencies; we will also produce some contents that will be leveraged to educate, inform and call residents to action to enable the facilitation of collaborations across the state.
Also, we are developing a dashboard that would serve as a platform to curate and provide data on the circular economy in Lagos to the private sector, public sector, individuals and the community.”
The consultant said that her firm will also seek out new initiatives that can be implemented for the state. “We have been called upon to work on the project of facilitating circular economy and resilience in Lagos State. Lagos is already ahead of the game when it comes to promoting circular economy popularity.
What we are doing is to facilitate the integration of different things that are happening in the circular economy space and environmental resilience space,” she said.