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Proper Packaging, Distribution and Retrieval (PDR) of polythene bags or BAN its use completely.

Packaging, Distribution & Retrieval (PDR), involves proper food packaging using polythene, sane distribution & sustainable retrieval method.

Photo of Terhemba Ahom
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Plastic carrier bags used by shoppers in Nigeria,  are light, inexpensive and convenient.  However, the use of plastic carrier bags entails negative environmental externalities (littering, ocean contamination, other environmental pollution etc) Since their invention in 1960, plastic bags have become a staple of everyday life. If you grew up in a Nigerian home, then you're used to seeing your mother hoard plastic bags filled with even more plastic bags – for no reason whatsoever.

Single-use Plastic carrier bags are usually made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)  and are usually used once, though they are often reused for Some other purpose such as to hold household waste. 

The sad part about all this is that the negative effects they have on our health and our environment far outweigh their temporary convenience.

Plastic bags are not easily decomposed and contribute towards the degradation of the environment. A plastic bag can take from 15 to 1,000 years to break down – which explains why most of them find their way to landfill sites and end up causing pollution. Plastic bags can be put on the market only if they comply with essential requirements for packaging minimisation, limitation of hazardous substances and suitability for reuse and recovery, including recycling, energy recovery, composting and biodegradation. 

I feel that to ban the manufacturing and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household will go a long way in correcting this future disaster.

At the moment, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi are among the other African countries that have adopted or announced such bans – and we are now waiting for Nigeria to get on it too.

This ban in developing countries is most likely due to ease of enforcement, inadequate waste retrieval and treatment systems and the need to address chronic litter problems. And this ban options are favourable rather than market-based instrument where thickness weight and durability are considered. 

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

Use Case 1(single -use sachet) but can spark off ideas for any three of them.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

There are at least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean (Photo: City Lab)Plastic bags contribute to the 8 million tons of plastic that leak into the ocean every year and according to UNEP, if it continues at this rate, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050.

Tell us about yourself

I am a social entrepreneur and a road safety advocate. I took a course in Environmental Microbiology and since then I have been advocating for the sustainability of a good and healthy environment. My little background has influenced this research positively.


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Terhemba,
There are 3 days left in the ideas phase of the circular design challenge! It would be great to see your ideas there, submit your idea via -

Photo of Kate Rushton

HI Terhemba,

Great to see you in the challenge. I noticed the single use sachets in the waste photo. What alternatives are there for them?

The ideas phase opens on Monday. I hope to see you there.

Photo of Terhemba Ahom