• Saturday, March 02, 2024
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U.S.-Africa Trade Council advises Lagos govt against styrofoam ban

styrofoam hawker (1)

…says it would worsen unemployment in Lagos

The U.S.-Africa Trade Council has warned the Lagos State government of a potential rise in unemployment arising from its ban on the use of Styrofoam, otherwise known as single-use plastic containers, in the state.

On Sunday, the Lagos State government prohibited the use of Styrofoam, a common component used in the sale of cooked food, without prior warning or enough consultation with stakeholders in the state.

In a press statement, signed by Titus Olowokere, CEO/President of the U.S.-Africa Trade Council, and made available to BusinessDay on Tuesday, the non-governmental organisation focused on strengthening trade relations between the U.S. and Africa pointed out that “the ban, although well-intentioned, fails to evaluate the broader economic consequences it entails.”

In highlighting the negative impact of the ban, the organisation stressed the huge economic significance of this industry, pointing to the thousands of Nigerians employed across the state.

It said, “The sudden halt in production and use of single-use plastic containers in Lagos will lead to significant job losses, further exacerbating the unemployment rate. This ban directly affects not only industry workers but also countless small-scale entrepreneurs who depend on the plastic sector for their livelihoods.”

In addition to the job losses, the trade council emphasised the huge financial burden that the small and medium-sized enterprises producing this product would have to take on.

It stated, “Furthermore, from an economic standpoint, the ban imposes an enormous financial burden on businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they are forced to find alternatives or invest in costly infrastructure to comply with the regulation. This additional expenditure, coupled with the already challenging business environment, will impede growth and hinder economic development, not only in Lagos but in Nigeria as a country.”

However, more driven by the urge for economic prosperity that benefits the state and populace, the trade council listed out some practicable solutions—solutions that, if implemented, would address the job losses arising from the ban, the huge economic burden to industries involved in the production, and the environmental mess created by the indiscriminate dumping of these Styrofoam products.

It said, “The U.S.-Nigeria Trade Council USA recommends a more comprehensive approach that balances environmental concerns, economic sustainability, and job creation. Rather than a sudden blanket ban, we propose the following solutions to mitigate the negative impact on both the environment and the economy, promote entrepreneurship, and pave the way for a greener Nigeria:

Public Awareness and Education: Implementing public awareness campaigns and educational programmes about sustainable waste management practices will promote responsible consumer behaviour and support the transition towards eco-friendly alternatives.

Sustainable Packaging Solutions: Engaging with industry stakeholders for the development and adoption of eco-friendly packaging alternatives, such as biodegradable or compostable materials. This can help minimise the environmental impact of packaging waste.

Investment in Recycling Infrastructure: The establishment and expansion of recycling facilities will create new job opportunities and support the growth of a sustainable recycling industry in Nigeria.

Entrepreneurship Development: Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs to invest in alternative packaging materials and innovative waste management solutions will stimulate economic growth and create new business opportunities.

Public-Private Collaborations: USTC advocates for collaborations between the Lagos State government, private sector entities, and civil society organisations to develop and implement waste management projects that drive entrepreneurship and job creation.”

In conclusion, the trade council pleaded with the Lagos State government to consider its proposal instead of an outright ban, which harms the livelihood of thousands of Nigerians.