The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, has expressed worries over the increasing rate of single-use plastics, pet bottles, polystyrene and other non-biodegradable wastes in the state and called for urgent steps to revert the trend with the encouragement of reusable plastics.
Speaking during the launch of the official ban on single-use plastic among the staff of LASEPA, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Belinda Odeneye said all hands must be on deck in order to guarantee quality health for the citizenry as well as to reduce the rate of some avoidable loss of lives caused by polluted environments.
Odeneye appreciated LASEPA for championing the advocacy on reusable plastics and for setting the pace for environmental sustainability for emulation by other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of the State government.
While saying that the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources aligns with the advocacy on reusable plastic by LASEPA, she claimed that the Ministry had in the past taken some measures to curb single-use plastics.
In her words: “The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources has a Plastic Waste Management Policy in place, we also have a recycling bank for plastic wastes within its premises where people can exchange their plastic wastes for money.
“Also, recently, the Ministry held sanitation competition where Surulere emerged the winner and were rewarded accordingly. So, we are not just advocating for a cleaner environment through our policy on plastic waste management, but we have also put a reward system in place to encourage willful compliance.”
The Permanent Secretary, therefore, advised Lagosians to be mindful of the health implications of their attitudes to the environment, saying that all unhealthy environmental attitudes have a vicious cycle effect on the lives of every resident.
On her part, the General Manager of LASEPA Dolapo Fasawe said that LASEPA being the agency in charge of environmental protection is leading its talk with the launch of the ban on single plastic use among its staff in order to protect the environment and encourage eco-friendly products.
Fasawe added that the agency is experimenting the feasibility of the ban before making recommendations to other government agencies to embrace the advocacy on reusable items and ban on single plastic use.
She said: “Single-use plastics represent the epitome of a throwaway culture that ends up in landfills, oceans, waterways and causes environmental and health hazards. Therefore, today, I will be handing over some dispensers as well as some reusable items to all the departments and units as my personal contribution to this campaign on the ban of single-use of plastic by LASEPA.
“Beyond giving out these items, the long-term goal is to ensure compliance by all the staffs of this agency because I want the ban on these items to be effective and I also want all the staffs to become advocates of this initiative in their respective places of residence.
“This is Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency and we have to be proactive in our campaign against plastic pollution by embarking on joint ocean clean up exercise with NGOs, sensitisation campaigns and town hall meetings with stakeholders as well as rewarding cash in exchange for plastics in order to champion proper disposal of these plastics and free our drainages, oceans and street of plastics.
“It is worrisome to discover that various meetings and conventions on plastic pollution has yielded nothing or little result regarding various recommendations. This is the reason LASEPA as a front runner in terms of environmental protection decided to practice what we preach.”
Recalling how the journey started, the General Manager said: “It started last year with the ban on single-use plastic within LASEPA. After this, we started sorting our waste, pet bottles, paper waste and vegetal waste and I realised that the pet bottles were filling our dust bins faster than other waste items.”
On what Lagosians should expect from LASEPA in the new year, Fasawe disclosed that the agency will be focusing on air quality, in order to limit the effect of polluted air which is currently affecting vulnerable age groups, both the elderly and babies.
“This year we are going for air pollution, you must service your car as and when due, your generator must not emit smoke and even for the telecom sector, their masts, if they cannot use gas to power their masts, they will have to find a way to ensure that the waste oil is reused and reused and reused,” the GM said.