Waste has become an issue of global concern that needs urgent attention due to the increasing awareness on the various sustainable solutions available to address it. By means of the growing population in Nigeria, solid waste generation is estimated to steadily increase above thirty million tonnes annually leading to a challenge of effective collection and disposal systems. Plastic is widely used, degrade slowly and poses negative impact to the environment thereby contributing to climate change. The daily rate of waste generation from plastic in Nigeria is concurrent with our population growth creating an opportunity for development in that sector.
One of the major pollutants in the environment globally is post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles commonly called plastics. They are easily seen in landfills commonly referred to as dumpsites, streets, drainages, rivers and other water bodies, mostly in developing countries including Nigeria. Lagos State alone as a mega city generates between 10,000 and 14,000 tonnes of waste every day (LAWMA, 2015) which contributes to over 30% of the PET waste in Nigeria. The total beverage PET waste was estimated to reach 148 tonnes by end of 2018 and is projected to grow by about 16% over the next 5 years. However, less than 30% of the PET waste generated is collected and less than 10% of these collected wastes are recycled.
It is critical to establish an efficient waste management system especially in a developing economy like Nigeria thus investing in the waste management sector through enhancing the value chain to support a closed loop system of circular economy where waste becomes a resource for other products or activities would remarkably nurture a green economy and create an emerging market in Nigeria.
An effective waste management system can be achieved through the application of an integrated approach along the waste value chain however some of the Identified limitations that hinder implementation of such a system include lack of education/awareness, inadequate collection system, lack of adequate infrastructure for the waste value chain and inadequate enforcement of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy. Most challenges of plastic recycling in Nigeria is varied across the value chain of the sector however the major area of concern is the collection systems which includes infrastructure for collection, segregation, washing, sorting and storage of aggregated waste; logistics covering transportation from source of generation to processing facilities, the cost of processing plastic waste to provide quality feedstock as resource for other processes.
The establishment of Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) is a key driver to implementation of the EPR. The Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) idea originated in 2012 through discussions initiated by five multinational companies (Coca Cola, Nestle, Nigerian Breweries, Seven Up and Nigerian Bottling Company) committed to providing sustainable solutions for their packaging waste products. On 29th March 2018, FBRA was formally incorporated as a Non- Governmental Organization and also the Producer Responsible Organization (PRO) for the food and beverage sector companies with a strategic focus to enable collection, recovery and recycling of the post-consumer packaging waste in the environment.
FBRA enhances identified waste potentials in Nigeria through various initiatives such as community recycling awareness, recycle for rewards campaign and buy back schemes conducted in various communities; through active involvement in stakeholders discussions on the rPET standard which was recently adopted by Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on 20th October, 2019 and will go a long way in changing the narrative for recycling industry in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, provided support for the development of the Plastics Lifecycle Policy to create the opportunity for sustainable solutions to the plastic menace; FBRA is also engaging with different players in the waste management value chain to promote a circular economy.
The Alliance currently consist of nine responsible and forward-thinking companies which include Nigerian Bottling Company Limited/Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Seven-Up Bottling Company Limited, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Intercontinental Distillers Limited, International Breweries Limited, Tulip Cocoa, and Prima Caps and Preforms with the potential to add more members in the future. Some Strategic partnerships have been established such as Lafarge to convert these scrap PET waste to energy through co-processing by engaging four recycling firms (Recycle Points in Lagos, Chanja Datti in Abuja, Solid Chemicals in Kano and West Africa Energy in Lagos) to enhance waste recovery and collection from the environment; with the Lagos State Government to recover plastic waste from the waterways using four jetty collection points as well as sensitizing the public on responsible waste handling through collaborative advocacy efforts of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
The collective efforts of the FBRA member-companies has led to knowledge sharing, encouraged innovation and collaboration on technical solutions appropriate for waste management, especially on recycling
The waste management sector in Nigeria presents huge opportunities for growing an evolving green economy with potentials for empowering various aspects of the waste value chain in such a way that creates new opportunities especially for youths and women. The setting up of an rPET Facility in Nigeria by Sonnex (Mohinani Group) backed by the adoption of a National Standard for use of recycled bottles for food contact application is a great step in the right direction. There are additional opportunities in the waste industry for processing of plastic waste into pallets and other materials such as fibres that provide feedstock into other industries. Sourcing for other alternative uses for plastic waste such as upcycling and bottle to bottle recycling also have the potential to grow exponentially.
There is a mandate for us to regard plastic waste as ‘material in transit’ so we can explore the hidden prospects that can be unlocked to provide resources that can create wealth in our economy. The drive for a circular economy globally sets the platform for Nigeria to break the ‘use and throw away’ culture; therefore, looking inwards can stir up creativity and innovations that can take the waste management sector to a booming economy.
Agharese Lucia Onaghise
Executive Secretary, Food & Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA)