In Europe, particularly in Germany, circular economy is top priority for environmental policy and the country’s ability to transform its waste management into a resource management system where about 14 percent of the (non-energy) raw materials used in its economy are recovered from waste is a huge lesson for Nigeria.
Circular economy demands that a country like Nigeria should be efficient with its resources. To achieve this, Nigeria should make laws to promote investment in recycling because billions of wealth can be generated for the economy, leading to the creation of thousands of new jobs if companies and individuals focus on building circular supply chains to increase the rate of recycling, reuse and re-manufacture.
Waste management in Nigeria, especially in big cities like Lagos, the country’s economic capital, is still a big challenge. The capacity and technology to convert waste to wealth are neither here nor there despite efforts at deploying them to address the intractable problem.
Lagos, a sprawling city of over 20 million population, has become a case study on a degraded environment where waste management has failed unlike Germany where it has evolved into a large and powerful economic sector.
“There are more than 270,000 people working in some 11,000 companies with an annual turnover of around 70 billion Euros. More than 15,500 waste management facilities help to conserve resources through recycling and other recovery operations,” Gafar Odubote, a director at Junior Chamber International (JCI) Nigeria, said in an interview in Lagos.
“Germany’s high recycling rates of 67 percent for household waste, around 70 percent for production and commercial waste, and almost 90 percent for construction and demolition waste speak for themselves,” he said.
Odubote does not, however, blame the waste management situation on one level of government alone because, according to him, responsibility for waste management should be a collective effort among the federal, states and local authorities.
He is of the view that the local government should be empowered to have responsibility for household waste which includes collecting and transporting waste; measures to promote waste prevention and recovery and the construction and operation of waste disposal facilities.
To ensure efficient waste management system, the government must provide the needed infrastructures and attract investors that will support proper wastes collection, sorting and recycling.
Odubote sees separate collection of waste as key to achieving recycling, bio-wastes, paper, glass, metal and plastics, noting that these wastes should be collected separately on pre-determined specific dates.
As it is done in other societies, he recommends that Nigeria should introduce landfill limiting policies. Waste going to landfill must be pre-treated in mechanical, biological treatment plants so as to prevent any biological conversion processes from occurring so as to reduce landfill gas as was experienced recently at the Lagos Olusosun landfill.
“Waste management as a subject should be introduced into the academic curriculum of students at all levels. The government should set a target for achieving a waste-free Nigeria and circular economy. The Enhanced Producer Responsibility (EPR) should be objectively implemented, as it will pave the way for waste prevention and recovery; while a Deposit Return Scheme should be introduced.
“The government should come up with a National Circular Economy Act, which will promote the circular economy in order to conserve natural resources, and protect human health and the environment from the impacts associated with waste generation and management. Appropriate technology should be deployed in the entire value-chain of the waste management process,” Odubote suggested.
Tags: Waste management