Can Nigeria Overcome Its Waste Crisis? Pursuing Sustainable Solutions


By Abdullateef Bala Usman

The issue of waste poses significant challenges to both our environment and public health. On an annual basis, the global accumulation of municipal solid waste (MSW) reaches a staggering 2.01 billion tons, with projections indicating a potential surge to 3.40 billion tons within the next three decades, reflecting a concerning 70% uptick.

For advocates like myself, dedicated to promoting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it's disconcerting to learn that Nigeria is among the 30 countries struggling with waste management, scoring a dismal 12.7 out of 100 according to assessments by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Within Nigeria itself, an estimated 32 million metric tons of waste are generated each year, with a substantial 2.5 million tons comprised predominantly of plastic materials. This prompts us to contemplate the absence of entrepreneurial initiatives. It's high time we collectively brainstorm strategies to mitigate the annual surge in waste production. One potential avenue worth exploring is the transformation of plastics and other waste materials into environmentally friendly alternatives, or perhaps tapping into the natural decomposing capabilities of microorganisms.

In this regard, various types of microorganisms play a crucial role in waste decomposition. Bacteria, including Bacillus, Pseudomonas, and Actinobacteria, are known for their ability to break down organic matter. Fungi, such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Trichoderma, contribute to the decomposition of organic materials like wood and plant debris. Actinomycetes, with properties similar to both bacteria and fungi, decompose tough organic materials like lignin and chitin. Additionally, yeasts like Candida and Saccharomyces aid in the breakdown of sugars and other carbohydrates.

Furthermore, industries can significantly contribute to waste management by implementing sustainable practices such as reducing packaging waste, implementing efficient production processes to minimize waste generation, and investing in technologies for recycling and reuse of materials. They can also redesign products to make them more eco-friendly and easier to recycle, collaborate with stakeholders to develop and implement waste management initiatives, and support education and awareness campaigns on waste reduction and recycling. Lastly, there should be strict enforcement of waste management regulations.

Note that this article represents the opinion of the writer and not that of Observers Mag. 

Adekunle Famuyiwa

An avid writer, campus Journalist, researcher and budding Lawyer. Currently a 500-level student of Law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, and the Editor-In-Chief of Observers Mag

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