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Monday, April 22, 2024

Anti-styrofoam campaigners share alternatives in Lagos markets

A non-governmental organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), has initiated an awareness campaign in major markets within the Ikeja area of Lagos State, aimed at educating and sensitising traders about the risks associated with utilising styrofoam and single-use plastic products.

In January, the Lagos state government announced its decision to ban the use and distribution of styrofoam and other single-use plastics across the state.

The decision, according to the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, was reached following the menace that single-use plastics, especially non-biogradeable styrofoam, were causing on the environment.

Though styrofoam has over time gained popularity in the food service and packaging industries because of its insulating properties, experts say that the cost of this convenience far outweighs any benefit.

They believe that the manufacturing of foam containers is harmful to humans and wildlife, creates environmental litter that is costly and difficult to clean up, and is simply not environmentally sustainable. Styrofoams made from polystyrene never fully biodegrade because they’re resistant to photolysis. It lasts virtually forever.

As part of efforts towards achieving a safe environment, HEDA distributed reusable bottles and plastics to more than 500 market traders as substitutes for single-use plastics and styrofoam.

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The Executive Secretary of HEDA Resource Centre, Sulaimon Arigbabu, who led the campaign to the markets, emphasised the necessity for collective action in combating the menace of styrofoam and its detrimental effects on the environment.

He underscored the importance of adopting alternative practices, such as reusable water containers and plastics. The campaign, he said, is part of the activities to commemorate the HEDA Resource Centre’s 20th anniversary.

“We are giving out over 500 water bottles with food. The food is in celebration of our anniversary. But the brain behind this is actually to educate you so that you can wash and reuse the bottles and plates. That is our culture; we don’t have a culture of waste. We don’t have a culture of using things and just throwing them away. Our culture is to use something, keep it, and clean it for another time,” he said.

In her response, the head of the Ipodo Obada market in Ikeja, Mrs. Abiodun Apena, commended HEDA’s efforts, confirming that the market committee is actively enforcing the ban on styrofoam and single-use plastics.

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She acknowledged the cooperation of market vendors in adhering to the ban and expressed optimism that HEDA’s demonstrations would further bolster compliance and understanding within the community.

Christiana Alabi-Akande
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