By G9ija

The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, in a keynote address at the 11th National Regulatory Dialogue on the implementation of of the national environmental regulations with the theme, “Overview of Implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility Programme in Nigeria, Challenges/Prospects’, said waste generated indiscriminately end in the environment thereby posing threats.

She said the unsustainable and vicious twin cycle of indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources and poor waste management culture pose dire consequences for the environment and human health.

“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and biggest waste producer. To meet the needs of the growing population, extraction of virgin and raw materials has been on the rise to achieve higher production quotas.

“On the other hand, waste management has remained a critical challenge in Nigeria, thus daily significant amount of waste produced in Nigeria end up indiscriminately in the environment,” she said.

The Minister, therefore, commended NESREA for engaging stakeholders on the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and urged them to work together to save the environment from eminent danger.

She explained the EPR as an environmental protection strategy aimed at decreasing impact from a product and its packaging, by ensuring that the producers of the product take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products especially in the take-back, recycling and final destination.

“It is a framework of action for a collaboration and partnership approach between government, business and the larger society towards achieving a zero waste society in the near future,” she said.

In his goodwill message, the chairman National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) governing council, Barr. Iyiola Oladokun, said plastic wastes constitute 80 per cent of marine deaths.

He, therefore, called on stakeholders to close ranks and come up with suggestions that will help redeem the environment.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the director-general, NESREA, Prof Aliyu Jauro, said the focus of the 2021 National Regulatory Dialogue was to examine the implementation of the EPR programme in Nigeria, its challenges and prospects in line with the 2016 report of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Greening Africa’s Industrialization and adoption of circular economy for sustainable development.

He said in the past, people lived in small communities where wastes resulting from human activities were dispersed over large expanse of land, resulting in little or no adverse effects on the environment.

“However, the exponential growth in population and the subsequent expansion of industries have increased the volume and complexities of wastes which now concentrate in a few nodal points. It is estimated that Nigeria generates more than 32 million tons of solid waste annually, out of which only 20-30% is collected. Reckless disposal of Municipal Solid Waste has led to blockage of sewers and drainage networks, and choking of water bodies.

“Most of the wastes are generated by households and in some cases, by local industries, artisans and traders which litter the immediate surroundings,” Jauro said.

He said the above scenario informed government to introduce policies and programmes aimed at halting the devastation of the environment.

He noted that NESREA as an agency of the Federal Ministry of Environment established by the NESREA (Establishment) (Amendment) Act, 2018 is charged with the responsibility to enforce all environmental laws, guidelines, policies, standards and regulations in Nigeria.

The agency also has the responsibility to enforce compliance with provisions of international agreements, protocols, conventions and treaties on the environment to which Nigeria is a signatory.