The Lagos State Government affirms its commitment to the ban on styrofoam products, stating that there will be no reversal of the decision.

The Lagos State Government reiterates its firm stance on the complete ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam within the state. Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, made this declaration during a consultative meeting with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Restaurant and Food Services Proprietors Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN) in Lagos on Thursday.

Wahab emphasized that the detrimental impact on public health and the environment caused by the use of styrofoam in the state necessitates the implementation of the ban without any possibility of reversal.

“The only soft landing which the state is willing to offer all producers and distributors of styrofoam is to delay the enforcement of the ban by three weeks,” he said.

Wahab remarked that a three-week period is ample time for the existing styrofoam products in the state to be utilized, provided that stockists are genuinely dedicated to this endeavor.

He highlighted that the decision to ban styrofoam was announced over three years ago, yet enforcement measures were not effectively implemented during that time.

“You will all agree with me that for over three years, this conversation has been ongoing, waiting for when the big bold step of enforcement will be taken,” Tokunbo said.

He emphasized that the adverse consequences of styrofoam usage, including loss of lives, destruction of ecosystems, and harm to aquatic life, are immeasurable and profound.

“The lives of the residents are far more important than the profit the producers will make for the continuous production of styrofoam,” Wahab said.

According to him, the manufacturers appeal to put the ban on hold is like wanting people to take poison for a longer time in order to reduce their (manufacturers) commercial losses.

Wahab reiterated that the havoc and devastation caused by styrofoam products during and after the rainy season is beyond imagination, impacting public utilities significantly.

He emphasized that if producers had adhered to the law responsibly, government intervention would have been unnecessary. The government has extended a three-week moratorium to producers and entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector, demonstrating a compassionate approach to the ban.

Wahab urged them to recognize that leadership and governance entail making difficult decisions. He emphasized that producers have a societal responsibility and noted the absence of any steps taken by them to conduct environmental impact assessments before initiating production for public use.

Furthermore, he stated that discussions regarding other forms of single-use plastics would persist until a viable solution leading to their ban is achieved.

Dr. Gaji Tajudeen, the Permanent Secretary of the Office of Environmental Services, underscored that the decision to ban styrofoam products was prompted by the environmental havoc caused by their usage. He emphasized that styrofoam is non-recyclable and remains unchanged even after a century.

He further highlighted the hazardous impact of styrofoam on wildlife and aquatic life, noting that animals often mistake them for food, leading to detrimental consequences.

Similarly, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegeshin, the Managing Director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), expressed concerns over the proliferation of styrofoam packs clogging drainage channels. He emphasized the danger posed by styrofoam to human health.

“It will be irresponsible for government to sit and fold its hands because the cost of clearing those packs from tertiary, secondary and primary drains is very expensive,” Gbadegesin said.

Representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Okpe Sunday, and the Restaurant and Food Services Proprietors Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN), Mr. Olaoye Kazeem, appealed for leniency and requested time to deplete existing stock before strict enforcement of the ban.

The Lagos State Government had announced the ban on the use and distribution of styrofoam and other single-use plastics with immediate effect on January 21, 2024.

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