Lagos, Nigeria – U-recycle Initiative Africa, Plogging Nigeria, Green With Grin, and other esteemed environmental NGOs and social enterprises in Lagos collectively express our full support for the recent decision made by the Lagos State Government to ban the use of styrofoam food packs in the state. As youth-led organizations dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability, we have conducted climate education outreaches in rural communities, organized weekly cleanups across universities, and developed numerous innovative solutions to address the plastic pollution crisis across Lagos. Our efforts have reached over 25000+ youth and kids in Lagos, contributing to raising awareness and fostering sustainable practices.
Recognizing the urgency of environmental issues in the state, we acknowledge that grassroots solutions alone cannot effectively combat the plastic pollution crisis without the support of robust policies and systems. Therefore, we commend the Lagos State Government for taking decisive action in banning styrofoam packs, a significant step towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for Lagos and Nigeria.
Styrofoam, a widely used packaging material popularly known as “takeaways” within the state, has had severe environmental consequences. Its non-biodegradable nature contributes to pollution and poses a threat to human health. Styrofoam containers are created using styrene monomers, which could easily leach into stored food and act as carcinogens when consumed. Aside from this, the growing usage of styrofoam containers contributes to the blockage of drainages and waterways, resulting in increased flooding and public health risks within the state.
The impact of single-use plastics, including styrofoam packs, on marine ecosystems and life is significant. Single-use plastic items not reaching landfills ultimately end up in our oceans. These durable, long-lasting, non-biodegradable items, despite their popularity, pose potential harm. Beyond being an eyesore, styrofoam packs in waterways break into smaller pieces and when ingested by marine life, enters the food chain, leading to an abundance of microplastics in our meals. The environmental and health dangers of these items are extensive. As advocates for sustainable living, we recognize the urgency of addressing these negative impacts promptly. Thus, we genuinely commend the State Government for its recent policy.
Taking a trip back in history, it is noteworthy that many other countries across Africa have created policies over the years to tackle the issue of single-use plastics. These policies have been
met with tremendous benefits, especially when properly implemented. For instance, in 2008, Rwanda issued its first law banning the manufacture, use, import, and sale of plastic bags.
Through the effective implementation of this law and many other environmental laws passed in the country, Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is said to be one of the cleanest cities in Africa.
While this ban on styrofoam packs might shock many businesses and individuals who currently depend on the durability of this item in their day-to-day activities, we propose businesses, organizations, and the residents of Lagos, in general, switch to the use of more eco-friendly alternatives, such as;
- Reusable food packaging models: Businesses should encourage individuals to walk in with their reusable plates if they intend to take food out and offer incentives to reinforce this behaviour change.
- Biodegradable food packaging: These kinds of packaging, often made from biodegradable plant-based materials, are already being explored in different parts of the world. While maintaining the durability of styrofoam, biodegradable packaging takes as little as a few months to decompose, compared to styrofoam packs that take as long as
500 years to decompose.
Once again, it is worth emphasizing that this is a step in the right direction. We implore the Lagos State Government to rigorously and thoroughly see to the implementation of this recent policy, as it would lead to the betterment of the state. The ban is a vital step towards a more environmentally friendly future and its positive impacts are manifold, ranging from reduced environmental pollution to preserving our marine life. This move aligns with our collective vision for a cleaner and greener Lagos, and this ban is strategic in the transition of Lagos into a circular economy for a sustainable future, as well as setting precedence for other states in Nigeria to follow.
Here is what environmentalists across the state have to say about this recent ban:
“As environmentalists, we have worked towards this, hoping that this day will come. We are elated by the ban on styrofoam in Lagos State. We are positive that this is the beginning of a mega evolution in Nigeria’s environmental space. We must continue pursuing a cleaner environment with healthier citizens.”
– Adejoke Otuyelu Ayoade (Co-Team Lead, Cleaner and Healthier Nature Initiative)
“The use of styrofoam and other single-use plastics in Lagos state and beyond is a ticking time bomb. From contributing to climate change to causing health issues, the negative impacts [of styrofoam] are becoming increasingly apparent. We fully support the Lagos state government’s decisive action and commend their decision.”
– Tiwalade Aderemi (Executive Director, Tiwa Talks Green LTD/GTE)
“The plastic menace is a real issue in Lagos, and we’re very confident that this is a step in the right direction for the people of Lagos. At SustyVibes, we’re very particular about this, especially during our Street Conference events where the sheer volume of plastic waste makes it challenging for us to reach as many more people in different locations. We understand that this is a step in the right direction healthwise and environmentally, and we encourage Lagosians to see it as such”
– Hope Lekwa (Head of Research and Communications, SustyVibes)
The following Youth-Led Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Enterprises affirm, support and endorse the Lagos State Government’s ban on styrofoam packs:
- U-recycle Initiative Africa
- Plogging Nigeria
- Aquaworld Community Development Initiative
- Dhoney Adire and Crafts Nigeria
- Cleaner And Healthier Nature Initiative
- The Green Club Unilag
- Zero Plastic Straw Community
- EcoDiversified International
- Dawn Project Network
- Tiwa Talks Green LTD/GTE
Together, we stand united in our commitment to creating a sustainable future in Lagos