FG, experts seek extended producer responsibility on used batteries
Experts in the environment sector have called on manufacturers of batteries, and other dangerous chemicals to taking responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, especially in the take-back and recycling for the final destination.
They also noted that Nigeria has become a major consumer of lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, with informal and dirty recycling activities for millions of used batteries done without any consideration for the environment.
The Minister of State Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, who spoke at the National Forum in Abuja, said used batteries have caused widespread pollution in the communities, cities and towns where the products are dumped.
Ikeazor also explained that discussions on the progress of implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are being adopted globally as a production model, and Nigeria is at the forefront of Africa’s transition from a linear to a circular economy.
According to her, EPR is an environmental protection strategy aimed at decreasing impact from a product and its packaging, by ensuring that the producers of the product take full charge of the entire lifecycle of their products.
“This will encourage a ‘cradle-to-cradle approach to managing materials, redirecting waste destined for landfills and reducing the impact on the environment, a framework for partnership between government, business and the larger society towards achieving a zero-waste society.”
She stated that waste management has remained a critical challenge in Nigeria, saying, daily significant amounts of waste produced end up indiscriminately in the environment, sea and waterways.
The minister, therefore, urged the operators of industries and business owners to comply with all national environmental legislations, including the implementation of EPR programme and the take-back as a key approach to support sustainable development.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Alliance for Responsible Battery Recycling (ARBR), Terseer Ugbo, hinted that the automotive sector is the highest consumer and generator of used batteries, estimated at 5.9 million used batteries yearly.
Ugbo said the renewable energy and battery storage applications are growing fast and currently generate over 400,000 used batteries, adding that the power generating sector is estimated to generate 4.6 million used batteries every year.
“With population, more ownership of automobiles and renewable energy installations has led to higher demand for batteries resulting in unintended consequences for the Nigerian environment,” the ARBR Secretary added.
“Recent estimates by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of Nigeria (REDIN) indicate that Nigeria currently generates about 184,000 tons of used lead-acid batteries from the automotive and renewable energy sectors.”
Similarly, he stressed that lead-acid battery recycling is regarded as one of the worst polluting industries worldwide, and they may contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, silver, nickel or lithium that are very hazardous to human health if not recycled or disposed of properly.
“In order to create significant change, we believe that everyone who uses or benefits from batteries must share in the responsibility of ensuring their environmentally sound management and disposal.
In a presentation, the Executive Secretary of Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, Agharese Onaghise, highlighted focus areas such as collection and recovery of packaging material; waterways project: use of boats to harvest packaging material from the coastal areas.
She stated that a total of 13,366,493kg (13,366MT) of plastic waste have been collected using technology to track collection since they launched a pilot project in January 2021 in five locations: Lagos, Kano, Bauchi, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
“Over 35 communities impacted, over 1,000 waste workers were trained in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja. FBRA partnered with Green Janitors for the Campus Recycling Programme at LASU, and donated 10 collection bins to the university faculties.”
Director, Inspector and Enforcement, Mrs. Miranda Amachree, called for the setting up of waste collection and treatment facilities in major cities in line with the EPR programme.
“The implementation of this holds a lot for smooth take-off of the circular economy in Nigeria. Model is hinged on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) that will provide lots of investment and job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths,” she added.