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Abia Govt. Bans Use of Styrofoam Foils, ‘Take Away’

The Abia State Ministry of Environment has placed a ban on the use of Styrofoam foils, commonly known as ‘Take Away’. In a statement signed by the state’s Commissioner for Environment, Philemon Ogbonna, the discontinuation of using these foils as food containers was emphasized. This decision, announced on Saturday, is aimed at safeguarding public health and the environment.

Styrofoam, made from styrene, a petroleum-based material, has been identified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has highlighted various health risks associated with styrene, including central nervous system disorders. Moreover, studies suggest a potential link between styrene exposure and increased risks of leukaemia and lymphoma.

The harmful effects of Styrofoam are exacerbated when used for hot food and drinks, as heat can cause toxins to leach, posing additional risks to consumers. The United Nations has expressed concerns about plastic pollution, noting that Styrofoam does not biodegrade and can take up to 1,000 years to break down.

“Unlike other materials, Styrofoam does not biodegrade. It can take up to 1,000 years to break down, so when it is discarded, it builds up in the environment until it reaches a crisis point. This pollution chokes marine wildlife, damages soil, and poisons groundwater,” the UN added.

Despite its potential health risks, the product remains in high demand in Nigerian markets. This is due to its affordability and lightweight. There is an urgent need to address the environmental and health challenges posed by Styrofoam and other single-use plastics.

On January 21, 2024, the Lagos State Government, under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, led the way by initiating a ban on the use of single-use plastic, including styrofoam foils.

Trailing the path, the Abia State government is determined to ban the use of styrofoam foils until a “thorough investigation can be made”.

This ban on styrofoam foils has far-reaching implications for vendors and traders in both states whose businesses are now on the line. Environmental consciousness, however, is a more important consideration.

 

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