The circularity committee in Nigeria was started after the Federal Ministry of Environment decided to discontinue the use of single-use plastics within its headquarters and agencies. Once this decision had been made, the ‘Circular Nigeria Committee’ was formed to follow the Ministry’s lead and work towards phasing out single-use plastics.+
This change is evidently very necessary for Nigeria, as according to a WACA programme report, commissioned by the World Bank, the country is the only virgin plastic producer within West Africa’s coastal area and is also Africa’s largest oil producer. The oil and gas sector accounted for an estimated 10% of GDP, whilst in 2019 Nigeria produced 498 kilo tons of virgin plastic resin. Furthermore, Nigeria’s plastic consumption is much greater than its plastic production, especially as the country manages to meet just under two-thirds of the demand for virgin resin through imports.
One of the biggest contributors to these single-use plastic waste statistics, is the use of water sachets. These are an extremely common and cheaper alternative to selling pre-filled or sanitized water, without having to produce a plastic bottle. A research paper conducted in 2020, estimated that more than 60 million plastic sachets are consumed and disposed of throughout Nigeria.
One issue that does not help this plastic waste problem, is the lack of plastic recycling sites within Nigeria, meaning that less than 12% of plastic waste is recycled. The country currently has eight plastic waste recycling plants, with another eighteen still in various development stages. Due to this issue, most of the plastic waste ends up in landfills and dumpsites.
All of these different ways of creating and using plastic and the amount of plastic waste is what inspired the Ministry to set up a ‘Circular Nigeria Committee’ on the 11th and 12th of January, following a summit on environmental management. The purpose of the committee will be to implement the country’s circular economy roadmap, with the central aim being ‘to drive Nigeria’s path to sustainable and inclusive green growth by 2030 (medium-term) and 2050 (long-term)’. One of the first steps the committee will take in their new role, is to phase out single-use plastics and then to build further goals and movements on top of this.
A statement about this project said, “The retreat also agreed to discontinue the use of single use plastic within the Federal Ministry of Environment and its Agencies to drive a culture of waste reduction. In addition, staff of the Ministry and its agencies were requested to demonstrate leadership by example by implementing other personal climate actions in their environment.”