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Cleaner Lagos: Sanwo-Olu unveils Blue Box Programme for waste sorting

Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olushola Sanwoolu (3rd left), in company of his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke (2nd left); HC Environment, Mr. Olatunji Bello (L) and MD/CEO Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin (r), demonstrating how ‘Lagos Blue Box bag works, during the launching of Lagos Blue Box programme by LAWMA, at Simpson Transfer Loading Station, Sura, Lagos Island, on Thursday, 5th Sept, 2019.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide
Sanwo-Olu on Thursday launched the Blue Box Programme aimed at encouraging
waste sorting in a bid to achieve the goal of a cleaner Lagos devoid of filth.

In a statement, the Assistant Dir. Public Affairs at the Lagos Waste Management Authority(LAWMA), Folashade Kadiri, said the Blue Box Programme is a single
stream recyclable collection programme that would encourage separation of
recyclable materials from the general waste at the point of generation.

Speaking at the event, Sanwo-Olu said
with huge population, Lagos generated over 10,000 metric tonnes of waste daily,
adding that the old method of waste disposal had become old-fashioned.

He said 50 percent of waste generated
in the state could be recycled to generate income for the populace, as being
done in several parts of the world, stressing that LAWMA was saddled with the
task of driving a circular economy.

Sanwo-Olu stated that the bulk of
recyclable materials harvested by scavengers were contaminated and unable to
pass quality test thereby denying recyclers value for material, stressing that
this was what led to the Blue Box initiative, for waste sorting and

The governor said the programme would
kick-off on Saturday with two pilot schemes in Surulere and Victoria Island, as
well as some designated estates in the state.

While urging the PSP operators to key
into the programme, he added that LAWMA had begun registration of recyclers for
the programme, urging them to work with the Local Governments and Community
Development Associations, CDAs for the success of the programme.

He noted further that the target of the
programme was for the state to capture 50 percent of recyclable waste by 2021,
as well as create green economy and income for the people.

Speaking at the event, Commissioner
for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, noted that the programme
was in pursuit of the administration’s mantra of creating a cleaner Lagos, adding
that in recent time, the state had witnessed a lot of degeneration in the waste
management sector.

“This is further exacerbated by
population explosion resulting from intense inflow of people into the state in
search of greener pastures, and also due to instability in other parts of the
country, particularly the northeast. One of the major challenges being faced in
Lagos is our small land size in relation to our alarmingly increasing
population. This has impacted negatively on the availability of space for more
infrastructural developments.

“This dearth of sufficient land
space has also affected adversely our waste management strategy since we are
unable to get adequate land space for landfill activities to accommodate
the  huge waste being generated on a daily basis estimated to have grown
from 10,000 MT to 14,000MT within a period of five years,” he explained.

The commissioner said this was in
addition to high water table which further limited room to manoeuver, adding
that it necessitated government’s urge to rethink its strategy in waste
management, bringing about waste sorting for recycling.

He stated that government’s ultimate
aim was to attain waste conversion and waste buyback, turning waste into
resources, which he said, would ultimately minimize waste and drastically
reduce what should be transported to the landfills, and also eliminate illicit
disposal through drainage systems.

“It is without doubt that
today’s launch of Lagos Blue Box Programme, which involves a further
modernization of our waste management system, is a move in the right direction.
This is just the beginning. More are still coming on our waste management
policy towards attaining our goal of a greater Lagos,” he said.

Managing Director and Chief Executive
Officer of the Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin,
said residents of the the state were used to the old-fashioned style of dumping
all waste in one container, for eventual evacuation to the Transfer Loading
Station and/or  landfill site.

He noted that this practice was
outdated making the process of waste management more expensive and cumbersome,
denying the government and people the revenue derivable from proper waste
management system preventing the government from achieving the wholesome and
friendly environment it aspired to build. 

He disclosed that the governor
mandated LAWMA to come up with the idea of the Blue Box Recycling Programme,
that would encourage dropping trash into the appropriate boxes according to
characterization, adding that the governor went a step further to facilitate
production and donation of the bags being distributed.

“The Blue Box Programme is a
single stream recyclable collection program that will encourage separation of
recyclable materials from the general waste at the point of generation. We are
all now aware that we must keep our waste in containers at home.

“Now, we are advising that we
should have two containers- a black container for waste, and blue container for
recyclables. To kick-off the Blue Box programme, we are distributing these
color-coded recycling bags to each household through franchised recyclers for
separation of recyclables. The bags would be collected on designated dates by
the assigned recycler and transported to the sorting hubs within the area at
designated days of the week.

“Respective recycling companies
who are franchise holders, would come to pick up the boxes. Colour-coded bags
will be distributed by recyclers and Environmental volunteer corps who will
educate and encourage participation and also collate data on field. The
collected recyclables will then be transported to the Community Recycling
Centre in that area, for further sorting and sale to off-takers,” he

Gbadegesin said as a way of
encouraging compliance, LAWMA would promote the sorting culture with a reward
system, saying that participatory households would accumulate coupons
distributed by the franchisee which would be exchanged with several redeemable
options, which included but not limited to reduction in amount paid for waste

The LAWMA MD said the benefits of the
programme included capturing about 50 percent of recyclables upstream with zero
tolerance for scavenging by June 2021; attracting major investors, creating
green jobs, re-orientating and re-integrating scavengers as resource managers
at the Community Recycling centers.

Also speaking, wife of the governor, Dr.
Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, noted that the Blue box programme would help deepen the
culture of sorting during waste generation, adding that it would enhance zero
waste initiative of the government, while charging women to key into the
programme as waste sorting starts from the kitchen.

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