Senate advocates tax on plastic to save the environment

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja


Disturbed by the annual recurrence flooding, water pollution and destruction of aquatic life which affects human lives, due to plastic pollution in Nigeria, the senate has urged the federal government to increase tax payable on single use plastic bags and bottles to discourage their usage by the people, and save the environment.

Senate also urged the government to increase funding for the environment and environmental issues, as well as enacting and enforcing legislation on adequate waste disposal and recycling system in the country.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion, titled “World Environment Day 2018”, sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and nine others during Wednesday’s plenary. Other resolutions of the senate include seeking the participation of all states in the creation and review of policies; and shedding light on the nation’s environmental issues, as well as the introduction of eco-friendly reusable bags in the country.

It also urged the Federal Ministry of Environment and relevant agencies to ensure sensitisation, particularly of young ones, on these environmental issues.

Presenting the motion, one of the sponsors, Senator Rose Oko, recalled that every June 5 is the World Environmental Day set aside for environmental issues and protection of the environment, adding that this year’s celebration, themed “Beat plastic pollution”, was “a pointer to the need to cut down on use of, and combat the problems caused by plastic pollution by making small changes in our everyday lives”.

She noted that several countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and others have introduced measures like increase in tax payable on single use bags and plastic, payment for these bags, consumer education and retailer take-back programmes with a view to reducing waste from plastic pollution.

Senator Oko added that nine African countries have introduced a ban on plastic bags, including Kenya, Rwanda, which has recorded huge success with an outright ban on production, sales or importation of these plastic bags.

According to her, tonnes of plastic bags annually end up in drainages, water bodies and oceans, leading to “flooding, pollution of water bodies, destruction of aquatic life which affects human life etc”.

She lamented that due to lack of adequate sanitary facilities, unattended heaps of refuse packed in our communities and dilapidated building structures have contributed to the outbreak and spread of preventable diseases like Lassa fever, cholera and malaria, among others.

In their contributions, Senators Ahmad Lawan, Godswill Akpabio, Andrew Uchendu, and Foster Ogola, all stressed the need for national action plan in order to make the nation’s environment save.

They advocated for the enactment and enforcement of legislation on proper waste disposal and recycling system in the country. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki said the government still has a lot to do in ensuring that the environment is safe and better for all.