The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Tuesday called for greater commitment on the part of product manufacturers and distributors in the country towards the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programme with a view to safeguarding the environment from the waste they generate.
Tambuwal spoke in a speech delivered on his behalf by Hon. Akpan Umoh (PDP, Akwa Ibom) at a one-day stakeholder meeting on the subject-matter in Abuja.
The Speaker said the programme is a concept to promote total life cycle environmental improvement of product systems by extending the responsibilities of manufacturers of the products to various parts of the product’s life cycle especially to the take-back, recovery and final disposal.
“All over the world, countries have realised the need to make companies responsible for the waste they generate. Nigeria should not be an exception,” he said.
The chairman, Committee on environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife (APGA, Anambra) in her welcome address told participants that it is disheartening that most industries and businesses whose activities generate solid wastes do not show desirable interest towards efficient disposal of such waste.
“In a layman insight, what we are doing here today is about who has the responsibility for managing the waste we generate as a people. For instance, a can of malt was produced by a company, bought by a retailer and then sold to the end user. Now whose responsibility is it to safely manage this waste? We believe it is tripartite thing. So we want all the stakeholders to know their stake before NESREA can go into full action of enforcement,” she said.
Permanent secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta in her speech on behalf of the minister lamented the lack of compliance by businesses in the implementation of this programme.
“Unfortunately, the compliance to this programme has been very weak despite several efforts by NESREA. We must ensure that we do all businesses in an environmentally friendly manner.
“There is need to put in place instructive legal framework for this programme which is where the role of the House Committee on Environment becomes very important with regards to enforcement.”
National Environmental Safety Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA), according to the Director-General, Dr. Ngeri Benebo, discussions with operators of the food and beverage companies have not gone beyond the talking stage and we are happy that the National Assembly is putting its weight behind this process and that the operators and manufacturers will cooperate with us in the implementation of the programme.
On his part, Professor Adewale Osibanjo, an environmental expert and university lecturer said that, “about 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste which contains precious metals such as gold and silver capable of generating more employment if adequately harnessed are produced annually.”
He said the nation faces serious danger if priority attention is not given to the implementation of EPR at all levels of decision making in government.