Govt urges private sector to establish e-waste projects
AS Nigeria is facing a huge challenge of e-waste accumulation, the federal authorities are seeking the establishment of a pilot project and bigger schemes that will be managed by relevant institutions and private sectors in the country.
The authorities believe that the proposed project will undoubtedly create employment, boast national economy, alleviate poverty, and upgrade the capacity of the informal sector in managing e-waste in an environment friendly manner.
Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Mallam who revealed the plan during the inception meeting for the Person in Port project organized by Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for Africa region (BCCC-Africa), University of Ibadan in Lagos, noted that Nigeria has been used as dumping ground for used and un-used serviceable electrical and electronic equipment from developed world.
According to studies by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), between 20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste are generated globally and developing countries will produce double the e-waste produced in developed countries by 2016. It is also estimated that by 2030 developing countries will be discarding 400- 700 million obsolete personal computers annually in addition to 200 – 300 million in developed countries.
E-waste contains valuable ferrous (iron), non-ferrous (aluminum, copper), precious and special (gold, palladium, silver, indium, gallium), metals that can be obtained from dismantling of computer cases, frames, wires, cables and other components. Similarly, e-waste contains hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, beryllium, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants that pose both human and environmental health threat.
“ The rising value of these materials makes recycling more economically viable and attractive. In developing like Nigeria, Ghana, including China, India and South Africa, e-waste recycling is still not done in a satisfactory way, “ the minister said.
Mrs. Mallam who was represented by a Deputy Director in charge of Chemical Management in the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Idris Goji, listed some of the crude or ‘backyard recycling processes as open burning of plastics/copper wires – to reduce waste volume and to salvage valuable metals such as copper; and strong acid leaching of printed wiring board to recover precious metals.
She said that challenge of complying with stringent environmental safeguards and controls; and the economic costs in developed countries are responsible for the adoption of the easier option of exporting e-waste to developed countries.
Mallam stressed that the ministry is determined to stop the accumulation of electric/electronic equipment in the environment. “So far, the ministry has developed a draft policy, prepared guidelines and strategic action plan on the management of e-waste, e-waste management regulations have been prepared by the National Environmental Standard Regulation and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and these regulations have been approved and are in force.”
German Consul General, Michael Desus pledged support to the federal government to tackle the issues of e-waste in the country. He also called for the participation of the private sector in the establishment of recycling plants, noting that the small and medium scale industries are keys in the mopping up e-wastes.
The Executive Director, BCCC-Africa, Prof. Oladele Osibanjo called for partnership and collaboration with Federal Ministry of Environment, NESREA, Nigeria Customs and Nigeria Ports Authority and other stakeholders to ensure the success of the project in the national and global interest.
He further disclosed that the two-day workshop is to gather reliable information and data on the importation of Used Electrical and Electronic Equipment (UEEE) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) into Nigeria through the Lagos Ports.