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In continuation of its “Cash for Trash’’ initiative aimed at promoting environmental sustainability, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) on Saturday extended the initiative to Surulere area of the State as a way of reinforcing its commitment to environmental sustainability.

Speaking at the two-in-one event which also witnessed the commissioning of the LASEPA Surulere Zonal Office, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of The Environment, Office of Environmental Services, Dr Tajudeen Gaji said that the “Cash4Trash” initiative is poised to usher in a transformative era for Lagos through the implementation of the Circular Economy and Waste-to-Value Model.

He pleaded with the residents of Coker-Aguda and Surulere to recognize the power of collective actions in creating a safer and more prosperous future, maintaining that a Cleaner Lagos, where the air is fresh, streets are tidy, and children play in healthier environments can be achieved through safer environmental practices driven and rewarded by a circular economy.

This, according to the Permanent Secretary, can be achieved by embracing some environmentally-friendly attitudes like proper disposal of waste, reduction in dependence on single-use plastics, conserving water and encouraging other eco-friendly practices at homes, workplaces and places of businesses.

Dr Gaji informed that the administration of Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is working closely with various private sector and key developmental partners to not only help residents recover cash from waste but to drive social subsidies and incentives for most vulnerable citizens.

He also informed the audience that the State’s micro, small, and medium-scale businesses can also receive a boost through collaborative efforts on resource efficiency and by working together to recycle, upcycle and turn waste into valuable resources, maintaining that it will also help in creating products towards supporting local businesses.

Gaji, therefore, called on Lagos residents to build a waste-to-value model that benefits us all, saying “Instead of seeing waste as a problem, we should see it as a potential solution”.

The General Manager of LASEPA, Dr. Dolapo Fasawe highlighted the multifaceted approach being used by the agency for environmental protection and enhancement.

She explained that the “Trash for Cash” initiative seeks to combat the improper disposal of single-use plastics, which often end up in dumpsites and contribute to pollution, adding that by purchasing these plastics, LASEPA aims to prevent environmental degradation and promote recycling.

She added that LASEPA remains steadfast in enforcing environmental protection laws and policies, stressing that the agency has taken actions against businesses that discharge waste into open gutters, and it is working towards establishing effective waste sorting systems as well as instituting stringent measures against violators.

Similarly, while speaking at the commissioning of the 20th zonal office of LASEPA, Fasawe disclosed that the new office is part of the Agency’s Y2023 Vision, noting that the Surulere Zonal Office is a state-of-the-art facility designed to enhance the agency’s responsiveness to environmental concerns in the region.

She said that as LASEPA continues to advocate for change, the agency seeks to bridge the knowledge gap surrounding environmental sustainability through advocacy, sensitisation, and education of schools pupils to educate learners about the dangers of indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste through initiatives like the “Trash for Cash” programme and transforming waste into wealth.

Kenise Hill, the Deputy Economic and Political Chief at the US Consulate-General in Lagos, also expressed support for LASEPA’s efforts in tackling waste. Hill commended the initiative for its focus on addressing the common problem of waste disposal, which frequently leads to pollution of streets and waterways.

Hill, who stated that pollution has significant impacts on both public health and the environment, praised the model adopted by LASEPA, describing it as one that has the potential to be adopted as a national blueprint.

Mr Segun Ogunleye, the General Manager of Marketing at Seven-Up Bottling Company, hinted that the company collaborated with LASEPA to combat plastic pollution and promote sustainable economic growth through recycling initiatives.

In his words: “Lagos, a vibrant African city, is taking proactive steps to address plastic pollution, and this partnership aims to reduce plastic waste while showcasing its potential for economic growth. The joint effort reflects the commitment to sustainability and environmental protection, setting an example for other industries and promoting responsible plastic usage. The focus is on reducing plastic waste and fostering an environmentally conscious society”.

As part of activities for the ‘Trash For Cash”, there were free eye tests and health checkups conducted by the Lagos State Health Management Authority (LASHMA) and the distribution of eco-friendly materials, cash, food items and cowry cards.

The event also had in attendance the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Dr Emmanuella Zamba; Chairman of Coker Aguda LCDA, Hon. Rasaq Olamilekan; Jounna C.J, Deputy Director, Taipei Trade Office in Nigeria and Rep of the Honourable Member representing Surulere II at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Tunde Awoyele, among others.

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