Nigeria is currently ranked as one of the world’s leading destinations for electronic waste due to waste management issues. The average Nigerian generates about 0.65kg of waste daily and, apart from local dump sites present in most communities, Nigeria is home to six of Africa’s largest landfills.
In 2018, Nigeria was estimated to have discharged about 200,000 plastics into the ocean, while annual plastic production is estimated to grow to 523,000 tonnes by 2022. Nigeria would be generating 72.46 million tonnes of waste by 2025, according to the World Bank’s 2012 Urban Development Series Publication, bringing waste production on par with crude oil production.
These wastes not only block sewers and drains, but they also end up in bodies of water, harming biodiversity and aiding disease spread. Current waste culture also has a negative impact on the planet, contributing to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.
While some have made calls for Nigeria to utilise her waste economy, Nigeria can no longer afford one. Even though a waste economy can create employment, generate power and contribute to economic diversification, it encourages throwaway culture and seeks to preserve the consumption paradigm.
In a waste economy, humans will continue to drive the planet to the extreme by producing and pursuing huge amounts of waste, consequently depleting resources that future communities will require. Hence, a worthy alternative is the circular economy which aims to boycott recycling by giving us an actual chance at waste elimination.
According to the World Economic Forum, a circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It is based on the idea that there is no such thing as waste. Instead of a take-make-dispose linear cycle, in a circular economy, products are created for several life cycles. Their lifespans are elongated through maintenance, repair, redistribution, refurbishment or remanufacture loops. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, for example, dumping used items in a landfill creates six jobs, recycling creates 36 jobs, and reuse and repair create up to 296 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of used goods.
The circular economy provides a chance to end waste streams, ensure fewer greenhouse gases emissions, explore waste-to-energy options, save more resources, demand new services, find new profit and employment opportunities, and ensure a step into a more sustainable lifestyle for everyone.
To achieve a circular economy, efforts must be targeted at business innovation, policy support and consumer demand. It is important that the Nigerian government create and implement policies that would make producers take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products. The use of recycled materials should also be incentivised to encourage the process.
Despite Nigeria’s status as a founding member of the African Circular Economy Alliance, efforts to engage citizens have been modest, if not non-existent. Thus, public enlightenment is important; citizens must be aware of the hazards of sustaining the status quo, and they must desire these solutions enough to undertake the necessary lifestyle adjustments.
Through mass education, consumers’ habits can be influenced by assisting them in reexamining their interactions with natural resources, raw materials, and waste economic systems. People need to know that throwing outdated things away is not the only option. This must be taught in classrooms at all levels of education— young people should be encouraged to develop local solutions and start eco-friendly businesses. They must be encouraged to pursue careers and work in the recycling and clean technology fields.
Since erasing the volume of waste is not feasible, then there is an urgent need to invest in the recycling industry as this will ensure a better transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.
- Arekpitan Ikhenaode is a writing fellow at African Liberty
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Publish date : 2021-11-16 23:23:22