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Lagos plastic vendors record huge losses over sudden ban on Styrofoam boxes



Lagos plastic vendors record huge losses over sudden ban on Styrofoam boxes

Business owners in Lagos state have raised concerns over the recent ban on styrofoam packs and other single-use plastics in the state. The distributors and vendors, who spoke with our correspondent said they had suffered huge losses in their businesses due to the sudden ban on single-use plastics in Lagos.

On January 21st, 2024, the Lagos state government announced the ban on styrofoam boxes and single-use plastics with immediate effect. This was disclosed in a statement signed by Tokunbo Wahab, Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Lagos state.

The commissioner also made this announcement via his official X page, @tokunbo_wahab, stating that the ban was due to the environmental pollution these single-use plastics caused in Lagos.

“Following the menace, which single-use plastics, especially non-biodegradable Styrofoam, are causing on the environment, the Lagos State government (@followlasg) through the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (@LasgMOE ) is hereby announcing a ban on the usage and distribution of Styrofoam and other single-use plastics in the State with immediate effect,” he posted.

However, after a meeting with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Restaurant and Food Services Proprietor Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN) at the Secretariat, he announced a three-week extension in enforcing this ban, while reiterating that there was no going back on the total ban of usage and distribution of single-use plastics in Lagos state.

“The only moratorium that the state is willing to offer all producers and distributors of styrofoam is to delay the commencement of enforcement of the ban by three weeks after which the government will go on full enforcement of the law,” he stated.

A recent report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) titled ‘Addressing the Plastic Waste Problem in Nigeria’ revealed that Lagos state generates an average of 870,000 tonnes of plastic waste yearly, thereby making it the highest contributor to the plastic waste menace in Nigeria.

“Lagos state, as just one of the 36 states in Nigeria, is the commercial centre, with approximately 22 million inhabitants generating an average of 870,000 tonnes of plastic waste yearly (Dania, 2022). This makes Lagos State, a coastal city, the highest contributor to the plastic waste epidemic in Nigeria,” the report stated.

The report further revealed that poor waste disposal by most Lagos State residents and lack of adequate waste management were factors contributing to the plastic waste epidemic in Lagos.

“Most Lagos state residents dispose of their plastic waste indiscriminately and without any knowledge of the externalities that could arise from their poor disposal habits. Private sector actors have taken the initiative to tackle plastic waste removal and recycling but are too few to create a real impact on the sector.

Similarly, there is also a lack of adequate waste management infrastructure to encourage proper plastic waste disposal. As a result, most residents do not see the need to separate the different types of waste they collect, dumping biodegradables and non-biodegradables into one bin or discarding them indiscriminately on the streets,” the report added.

Monsurat Adesanya, a plastic vendor in Mile 12 market, Lagos aired her grievances over the ban on single-use plastics while speaking with our correspondent.

“I restocked styrofoam packs two weeks before the ban. These are goods worth over N500,000. After they announced the ban, the officials of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) came to my shop to warn me not to sell the styrofoam packs anymore. They said if I fail to comply with this rule, my shop will be locked up. I kept the styrofoam packs inside the store because I can’t sell them any longer. I wish I hadn’t restocked before the ban. This is a huge loss for me,” she said.

Esther Dawodu, a plastic vendor shared her thoughts on the ban on styrofoam boxes, adding that she lost about N250,000 as a result of the ban.

“The ban was so shocking. There was no prior notice. The styrofoam boxes I have in my shop are worth about N250,000. What am I supposed to do with them since I can’t sell them anymore? I wish the Lagos state government could give us three months to sell the ones we already have in our shops. Nigeria is hard enough. This is the only business I depend on. Imagine running at a loss amounting to N250,000 in a new year. Lagos state government should please give us a three-month extension to sell off the styrofoam boxes we have left,” she pleaded.

A street food vendor in the Ebute Metta area of Lagos state, Kaosarat Usman, opined that the ban was sudden, adding that her customers preferred styrofoam packs as they are more affordable.


“Honestly, the ban is sudden. It’s also affecting food sellers because customers prefer styrofoam packs because we sell a pack for N50, they hardly buy reusable plastics,” she said.

Donald Williams, a 44-year-old restaurant manager shared his thoughts on the ban of styrofoam ban.

“I’m not against the policy, however, I’m against the implementation of the policy. Before implementing such a policy, I expect that the Lagos state government should give at least six months’ notice to manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of styrofoam packs to prepare them. It should be a gradual process, not an outright ban. When the United Kingdom wanted to ban single-use plastics, the citizens were given a one-year notice. The ban would have affected my business badly because we planned to restock the same week it was banned. I know people who lost millions of Naira due to this ban,” he decried.

On the other hand, Chicken Republic, a Nigerian Fast food outlet stopped the use of styrofoam packs for both walk-in and online orders following its ban in Lagos state. This was revealed in a statement released by its parent company, Food Concepts PLC.

“Food Concepts Plc applauds the recent decision by the Lagos State Government to ban the use of Styrofoam, recognising it as a significant step towards protecting our environment. Effective immediately, all our outlets in Lagos will commence the transition from using Styrofoam packs for both walk-in and online orders.

We encourage our citizens across the state to bring their own reusable food containers. In line with our commitment to sustainability, we will charge for reusable plastic takeaway containers henceforth. We are also actively working towards reducing our overall plastic footprint. As we navigate this transition together, our team is available to answer any questions or concerns. We apologise for any inconvenience during this adaptation to eco-friendly, sustainable options,” it notified.

U-recycle Initiative Africa, Plogging Nigeria, GreenWithGrin, Aquaworld Community Development Initiative, Dhoney Adire and Crafts Nigeria, Eco.Biz, Cleaner and Healthier Nature Initiative, and other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have commended the Lagos state government for the ban, adding that such an action is a “significant step towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for Lagos and Nigeria”.

These NGOs expressed their full support towards the ban in a statement signed by Timilehin Abioye, Director of Communications, U-recycle Initiative Africa.

“As youth-led organisations dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability, we have conducted climate education outreaches in rural communities, organised weekly cleanups across universities, and developed numerous innovative solutions to address the plastic pollution crisis across Lagos

Recognising the urgency of environmental issues in the state, we acknowledge that grassroots solutions alone cannot effectively combat the plastic pollution crisis without the support of robust policies and systems. Therefore, we commend the Lagos State Government for taking decisive action in banning styrofoam packs, a significant step towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for Lagos and Nigeria,” the statement said.

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