In a bid to arrest the growing environmental hazards caused by the littering of waste, the federal government Wednesday said it would implement a ban on the use of plastic bags in the country beginning from January next year.
This came as the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, raised the alarm on the environmental impact of the food Lagosians prepare, urging them to guard against wastage.
But, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadza Mailafia, who spoke during this year’s World Environment Day celebration in Abuja, explained that the federal government would replace the nylon bags with paper bags.
Mailafia, who said the ban would take effect from January 2014, said government was also considering doing away with the use of sachet water, stating that the decision to ban plastic bags was necessitated by the numerous health and environmental hazards associated with its use.
She explained that while paper bags could easily decompose after being dumped, plastic bags were non-biogradable materials, which could stay in the soil for several years contaminating and destroying the environment.
Regarding the move to stop sachet water production, Maillafia said the ministry was currently conducting research along with experts on finding better alternatives that would replace sachet water.
While appealing for understanding from Nigerians, the minister said sensitisation campaigns would be carried out between now and the end of the year before the commencement of the ban in January.
She said the theme of this year’s World Environment Day celebration ‘Think, Eat, Save, Reduce your Food Print’, was meant to highlight the magnitude of food waste worldwide and the associated environmental, humanitarian and economic implications.
Quoting statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the minister said one-third of global food production which equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes of food annually normally, is wasted from the farm and to fork, while an estimated 870 million people go hungry worldwide with more than 20,000 children under the age of five die daily of hunger.
She said there was the urgent need to address the massive loss and waste inherent in today’s food system so as to narrow the hunger gap and improve the wellbeing of the people.
Meanwhile, Fashola, who spoke through his deputy, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, at the opening of this year’s World Environment Day in Ikeja, said daily food wasted in the country had contributed greatly to global warming across the world.
According to him, huge tonnes of food items that are fit for consumption were being wasted on daily basis in the state.
He stated that: “The staggering amount of food wasted in the country is wholly unacceptable and a huge drain on the country’s precious resources. Wasting food just makes no sense in a resource constrained world; economically, environmentally and ethically.
“And this wastage occurs because many producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for human consumption in the country that is why Nigerians must make informed choices in buying and consuming.”
The governor further explained that the impact of food wasted wasn’t only for financial problems but also environmental.
“This also leads to squandering of resources such as fertilisers, pesticides and fuel used for transportation. The vast amount of food going to landfills, thus creating more methane, which makes a significant contribution to the current global warming.”
“Methane is the most harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to the climate change. And when the climate is affected, it will affect food production in the country especially in a country like ours where agriculture plays a major role in the economy,” he said.
Fashola urged residents to guide against food wastage as this leads to efficient land use, improved water resource management and positive impact on climate change, adding that: “The loss of property and livelihood is one that we must proactively guide against to mitigate global warming.”