Governments at all levels have been charged to formulate policies, and summon the political will to create an enabling environment which would promote a circular economy across the country.
This formed part of recommendations by stakeholders who converged for a Waste Recycling Conference and Exhibition themed: Growing Nigeria Economy through Local Content in Waste Recycling Space, at the premises of the Works Department, University of Lagos.
An initiative of UNILAG Consult Limited in collaboration with Rio ‘Jeevez Limited, the event which held on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 is aimed at showcasing locally built recycling products and research output on wastes to wealth potentials.
The conference, according to the Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering, Professor Sunday Ojolo, was borne out of the need to engage stakeholders and galvanize discussions towards addressing factors militating against effective waste recycling in Nigeria and Africa despite the glaring challenges caused by indiscriminate refuse dumping.
Welcoming participants, who were largely industry players, to the conference and exhibition, Prof. Ojolo gave insights into efforts by the UNILAG management to promote innovations and local technologies around recycling with a view to achieving a circular economy.
Prof. Ojolo listed various technological interventions by academics in the Faculty of Engineering which if commercialized, would promote local technologies and boost recycling thereby making it more organized and lucrative.
Resource Persons at the conference included the Manager, National Plastic Action Partnership, Dr Daniel Oderinde who spoke on waste efficiency and opportunities in a circular economy and the potentials for the plastic sector; the President, Lagos Recyclers’ Association, Dr Femi Idowu-Adegoke who spoke on “why we need to encourage local content for equipment development” and the General Secretary, Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, Mrs. Lucia Arese who also spoke on the “Roles of FBRA in promoting local content in waste recycling space”.
The resource persons commended efforts of academics particularly in warning against the dangers of inappropriate refuse management as well as promoting the right knowledge needed to achieve a circular economy.
They decried the abysmally low collection and recycling of plastic bottles all over Africa and were particularly displeased with the situation in Lagos state being host of three (3) out of Africa’s worst twenty (20) plastic-polluted water bodies.
While enumerating the many benefits of a circular economy, the recycling experts advocated environment-friendly alternatives to plastics just as they challenged governments at all levels as well as institutions to evolve policies which would incentivize plastic collection, recycling and reuse.
The plan of action according to stakeholders at the conference include harmonizing the expertise from both the town and the gown as well as bringing investors on board so as to ensure the commercialization of local fabrications which would promote local content and rid the environment of plastics.
The Project Lead, UNILAG Sustainability Challenge on Waste Recycling, Dr Abdulganiyu Adelopo, in his remarks, highlighted ways the university intends to track, collect and recycle one point five (1.5) million plastic bottles and cut down Co2 emissions on campus within the first semester of the ongoing 2021/2022 Academic Session.