Charting the roadmap to a circular economy in Lagos
Lagos State plans to lead the way in the circular economy in Nigeria, but there are still some potholes to fill. Vanessa Obioha reports on a recent stakeholder engagement led by agencies under the Ministries of Environment, Economic Planning and State Budget, in collaboration with Nondunna Ltd, a policy and management
With a growing population of over 20 million, Lagos State is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. This makes it prone to waste generation.
The state currently produces about 14,000 metric tons of waste that harms its economy; environmental risks to human health and livelihoods.
Therefore, it becomes imperative that the state that prides itself on being a role model for other states in the country to start moving from a linear to a circular economy.
How to ease the transition was the focus of a recent stakeholder meeting in Lagos. Organized by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency and the Lagos Resilience Office, agencies under the Ministries of Environment and Economic Planning and Budget respectively, and anchored by Nondunna Ltd , a policy and management consultancy, stakeholders found ways to limit waste generation and build a resilient environment. economy.
In her presentation, the Executive Director of Nondunna Ltd, Nonny Ugboma, whose company is managing the project, set out the four deliverables the state hopes to achieve in implementing a circular and resilient economy.
They include providing a circularity gap report, content development and strategic communications, project repository and tracking dashboard, and fundable projects.
Raising awareness and sharing data seemed to be the most challenging factors based on submissions to the meeting.
A circular economy is not a popular term and may require a breakdown for people living on the ground.
In simple terms, a circular economy refers to the conservation of natural resources and the reduction of waste. It is an economic model that aims to produce goods and services sustainably, by limiting consumption and the production of waste.
While a linear economy extracts, produces, consumes and disposes, a circular economy shares, rents, reuses, repairs, refurbishes and recycles existing products to add value.
Presented for the first time in the article “The economy of natural resources” in 1988, the circular economy is based on three principles: the elimination of waste and pollution, the circulation of products and materials and the regeneration of nature.
Although it is a new concept, many countries are already adopting it because it offers significant opportunities for more inclusive economic growth, which includes employment opportunities and positive environmental practices that are directly needed. to sustainability.
According to United Nations reports, Nigeria generates 43.2 million tons of waste annually. It is expected to generate approximately 72.46 million tonnes of waste per year at an expected rate of 0.85 kg waste/capita/day by 2025.
Therefore, in working towards a circular economy, Ugboma highlighted the need to raise awareness to keep the public informed. Such awareness will require a rounded communication process.
For example, the Circularity Gap Report will keep stakeholders informed of where waste generation is worse, as well as commitments made to address the issue.
Ugboma stressed that every organization should have waste management in mind, arguing that the problem with the linear economy lies in the process itself.
Explaining further, Anthony Alagbile provided more information on how the transition will happen. He revealed that the state will start with three local government areas: Alimosho, Oshodi and Ikeja. According to him, these areas were selected on the basis of a “matrix taking into account the population size, the group of residential areas, the variety and amount of waste generated and a group of industries”.
He also noted that incentives have been created to inspire the younger generation to fully understand the importance of waste management.
While stating that Nigeria is already used to a linear economy, LASEPA Managing Director Dolapo Fasawe argued that plastic is not entirely a bad product, but its improper disposal is what causes damage to the environment.
“It’s an economy where, from the design stage, you’re already thinking about sustainability and you want to know what your end product would be. Plastic isn’t totally a bad thing, but when not properly disposed of, it clogs our drainage system and causes flooding. So we say when you use plastic, reuse it and recycle it. You can use it up to ten times, and there are buyers in this country; if you need a list, come to LASEPA. “
However, participants argued that more needs to be done to speed up the process. They call for more engagement with other stakeholders. There were also concerns about drop zones for waste collection, as well as the rollout of wealth incentives to help with waste management. It has been suggested that ‘area boys’ can be used effectively in this regard.
Regarding content development, a communication strategist Ayodeji Tobun assured that the approach adopted will achieve four main objectives which are to educate, inform, call to action and gamify the content so that it stimulates engagement.
He said that at the heart of the communication strategy is to make the circular economy a common language. Already, Director of Resilience, LASRO, Fola Dania has revealed that the Eko Circular Podcast will help educate residents on building a resilient economy.
Although the use of technology to solve waste management was welcomed, guests expressed concerns about data sharing, as most companies protect their data.
Therefore, even if Nondunna builds a stakeholder monitoring dashboard to help collect data from the informal sectors, they are concerned that if the data is not made public, it will slow down requests.
Despite the concerns raised, stakeholders agreed that transforming Lagos State into a circular economy was the way forward, given that it presents an economic opportunity worth $4.5 trillion.
Countries like Sweden and Norway are already ahead in importing waste. Perhaps Lagos will lead the way in the years to come.
“It’s an economy where, from the design stage, you’re already thinking about sustainability and you want to know what your end product would be. Plastic isn’t totally a bad thing, but when not properly disposed of, it clogs our drainage system and causes flooding. So we say when you use plastic, reuse it and recycle it”