Monday, September 16, 2019 / 06:00PM / Guinness Nigeria / Header Image Credit: Guinness Nigeria
As countries across the world sustain the drive towards mitigating the dangers of non-degradable waste, participants at the CEO Roundtable on Sustainability have hinted that Nigeria stands a good chance of bending the curve in good time, only if the private and public sector can collaborate strategically. Aside policy making, the panel recommended strategic timelines for executing each step of the national plan on circular economy.
The CEO Roundtable on Sustainability is a yearly event organized by the Lagos Business School to generate debate and chart a course for economic development through sustainable initiatives. Partners for this year's event, themed "Action to Mitigate Plastic Pollution" were Guinness Nigeria Plc and Nestle Nigeria Plc.
The Circular Economy Concept
Commenting on the impact of plastic waste pollution on businesses and the society, the Managing Director, Guinness Nigeria PLC, Mr. Baker Magunda, in his Convener's remarks, stated that the focus should be on achieving zero-waste as well as cleaner growth targets.
"As a business, we are very conscious of the global initiative towards waste reduction and possibly, eradication. The idea of a circular economy combines three key goals in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation and affordable and clean energy. When we reduce plastic waste pollution, we would be addressing the issue of non-degradable waste, for which plastic wastes contribute immensely.
Presently, the tons of plastic wastes that flows into our waters also raise concerns over our hydrological cycle, including the safety of our aquatic life and what eventually comes down as rain to fertilize our farm produce. Consequently, to enjoy good health and wellbeing, we can no longer wait, but to act against the potential hazards of increased plastic waste" Magunda stated.
Magunda added that "presently, the global trend is driving a waste to wealth initiative. For circular economy to thrive, the government must be deliberate in creating awareness about the opportunities that are available in proper waste management, such as the huge potentials of job creation. In terms of energy generation, geocycle is the way to go- turning waste into energy and recycled materials. By this, we contribute to a reformative circular economy to achieve a zero-waste society.
For instance, Guinness supports the effort of the government through our '4R' waste management strategy, which are Reduction, Reuse, Recovery and Recycle. To this end, we will continue to advocate improved waste management practices, contribute to increased collection and recycling rates countrywide, and provide employment opportunities through scalable recycling solutions."
The Need for Environmental Literacy Programmes
In addition to creating awareness among Nigerian's, the Guest Speaker, Mrs. Folashade Morgan, Chairperson, Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) advocated for an intense and purposeful environmental literacy programmes to be championed by the government, in collaboration with the organized private sector.
These programmes will sensitise the people on the dangers and better ways to manage their plastic waste. She noted that issues affecting effective plastic waste management cuts across six critical areas, which are generation, collection, conversion, sorting, aggregation, and processing.
"Unfortunately, when you look as the level of waste management in Nigeria, it has a very low level of maturity. This is further compounded by the fact that we have low awareness among the users and the consumers themselves. There must be awareness on the separation of waste for easy management. Therefore, we have to be deliberate about awareness and enforcement for effective waste management. Plastic waste problem is accelerating and we must curb the spread," Morgan stated.
In his remark, the Senior Technical Adviser, Office of the Senior Special Assistance to President on SDG, Dr. Bala Yusuf Yunusa said the government is committed to working with the organized private sector to achieve an effective plastic waste management regime. According to Yunusa, "we recognise as a government that the SDGs cannot be achieved with stand-alone projects and programmes. They have to be ably mainstream into our development plans and programmes. We also realise that the public sector cannot do it alone, we have to engage the organized private sector. Going forward, we encourage the private sector to support the government through innovative financing that can facilitate the achievement of the SDGs. Therefore, we are also looking forward to working with the organized private sector to develop an integrated financing framework for the SDGs".
Commenting on the objective of the CEO forum on sustainability, the Director, Lagos Business School (LBS) Sustainability Centre, Professor Chris Ogbechie said although Nigeria is not yet at the critical stage of dealing with plastic waste management, reports are showing that it may be very soon. Therefore, it is only wise that the country start looking in the direction of mitigation the possible challenge that an ineffective waste management may cause the country and indeed the global ecosystem in the long run.
The CEO roundtable on sustainability forum featured about seventy top executives across of food beverage and manufacturing companies, recycling companies, financial institutions, government agencies, organised private sector groups and foundations among others.
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