[Nigeria] The Environmental and Social Impacts of the Green Tax Ban on Single-Use Plastics

By Melody Ifechi Enyinnaya, Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria

The recent ban on Green taxation on single-use plastics (SUPs) by the Nigerian Government means several environmental and social impacts for grassroots individuals. This is because the very purpose of green taxation which was to reduce plastic waste and encourage the adaptation of more sustainable alternatives has been defeated. 

The ban means increased waste generation and plastic pollution for grassroots individuals because with the suspension of the tax, there will be an increase in the consumption of SUPs. This could lead to higher levels of waste generation and plastic pollutions, as SUPs are not biodegradable and grassroots individuals will face the direct consequences of this increased waste and pollution in their communities as the single-use plastics usually find their way to the oceans and water bodies and causes pollution that affect local water bodies, landfills & ecosystems, creating health hazards and damaging natural habitats.

Limited Incentives for sustainable practices: The green tax which served as an incentive for businesses and consumers to adopt more sustainable practices. The ban means there will be fewer financial incentives for grassroots individuals to choose environmentally-friendly alternatives over harmful ones. This may make it harder for individuals to prioritise sustainable choices when they are often more expensive than their less eco-friendly counterparts. 

Degradation of Natural Resources: Without the green tax, there may be a higher demand for non-renewable resources like fossil fuel which is use in SUP production, leading to increased extraction and further degradation of the environment. Grassroots individuals who rely on natural resources for their livelihoods, such as fishing or agriculture, may suffer the consequences of resource depletion and degradation.

Awareness and Education: The green tax initially aimed to raise awareness among individuals regarding the negative impact of SUPs on the environment. With its suspension, it will make it difficult for grassroots individuals to fully understand the consequences of using non-sustainable products.

Sustainable Alternatives may be neglected: The ban might reduce the motivation for businesses to invest in and promote sustainable alternatives to harmful products. This can limit the availability and accessibility of eco-friendly options for grassroots individuals, making it harder for them to adopt sustainable practices.

It is highly important the government considers the impacts of the suspension on grassroots individuals when evaluating the green tax ban on SUPs. To us at ERA/FoEN and GAIA Nigeria, the suspension/ban on green taxation seems like a major setback in the work we’ve done in the waste sector but then we see it as a challenge to put in more strategic efforts and in the coming days we’ll be engaging with federal actors in the waste management sector in series of dialogue which will push them to action for a relieve of the ban thereby prioritising education, awareness, and sustainable alternatives to mitigate the negative consequences and support grassroots individuals in making environmentally-conscious choices.