NESREA urges compliance with EPR policy on solid waste
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) emerged in Sweden and Germany in the 1990s, as a policy strategy to encourage environmentally responsible product manufacturing and disposal. The product stewardship policy holds product manufacturers or brand owners responsible for their products at every stage of the product life cycle, from upstream matters of materials choice and toxins reduction, to waste disposal and management.
In this interview online, the Director General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr. Lawrence Anukam, explores the workings of EPR in Nigeria and the agency’s plans for enforcement come 2016.
NESREA was founded in 2007 to help promote a healthier environment for Nigerians. Please give a brief overview of how this has been achieved thus far.
The Agency has achieved this using her policy thrust in the areas of Environmental Monitoring, which focuses on water pollution, air pollution/noise pollution, land degradation, waste management, e-waste control, and Wildlife crimes; National Environmental Audit, focusing on the review of environmental audits submitted by the regulated community, verification of data and information by the different sectors and certification; and Environmental Enforcement, focusing on compliance monitoring and enforcement, Federal-State Regulatory Dialogue with the delineation of roles and responsibilities, public education and awareness, NESREA Green Corps volunteers Initiative to serve as environmental watch dogs, Networking at local, national and international levels, as well as capacity building and human resources development.
What challenges has NESREA encountered in regulating and monitoring wastes?
Monitoring, regulating and controlling waste within the Nigerian environment requires a lot of efforts with some challenges, which include Poor adaptation of green technologies by the industry; the proliferation of near-end-of–life and end-of-life electrical/electronic equipment (e-waste) in the country and inadequate infrastructure for solid waste management resulting in open dumping and burning.
In addition, there are issues around Multinational companies applying weaker operational standards in Nigeria different from their parent companies; incessant delays of environmental crime cases in Courts and inadequate knowledge of environmental issues by some members of the judiciary and law enforcement agents.
Poor communication and exchange of information among key stakeholders also poses a problem, as there is generally inadequate public awareness on environmental issues; and also insufficient funds for environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement programmes.
There have been concerns about the effect of climate change on the nation’s biodiversity. How is improper waste management connected to these issues and what dangers does it pose to the country?
Climate change is a cross-cutting environmental issue and it has moved to the top of the global agenda. Most climate issues are connected with air pollution arising from persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Wastes within the country are mostly dumped either on water bodies, land good for agriculture or at road sides. Those dumped on land when burnt, release greenhouse gases such as water vapour, ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane including dioxins and furans that affect the health of both plants and animals.
The impacts of climate change will be felt in various areas, for example, weather related mortality, infectious diseases and air quality related respiratory illnesses; low crop yield and increased irrigation demand; deforestation and a more fragile forest ecosystem; erosion of beaches, inundation of coastal lands and additional cost to protect coastal communities; and biodiversity loss, including loss of natural habitats.
At the recent Stakeholders’ Forum organized by NESREA in collaboration with the Nigerian Beverage Alliance, you briefly discussed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). What are the objectives of EPR and how would they be achieved?
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a concept to promote total life cycle environmental improvements of product systems by extending the responsibility of the manufacturers of the product to various parts of the entire life cycle of the product, and especially to the take-back, recycling and final disposal of the product.
The objectives of the EPR are to reduce waste streams from post-consumer products; to provide clear and measurable targets in terms of prevention, reuse or recycling objectives; and to encourage manufacturing of environmentally friendly products by incorporating waste prevention, reuse and recycling considerations into product design.
To achieve these objectives, certain modalities need to be put into place such as developing operational guidelines for the EPR programme and strict adherence to the guidelines; establishing criteria for the collection, handling, transportation, and final treatment of post- consumer products; developing standards for the recovery and recycling programmes for specified materials; and encouraging the establishment of Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) or stewardship organization.
What role will the government play in ensuring clarity and level-playing ground for various sector players in the EPR Programme?
The Government has developed various regulations with EPR components. It has also developed operational guidelines for the EPR programme in Nigeria. The Government is ensuring a level-playing field so that there will be equal opportunities for stakeholders. This is to be achieved by monitoring the activities of the stakeholders; issuing appropriate permits; assisting in public education and awareness programmes and imposing penalties for non-compliance with the relevant national regulations.
The government is also involved in establishing appropriate reporting mechanisms and a line of communication among the key sector players, while ensuring that the regulated community fully complies with the laws and guidelines without fear or favour.
How much progress has been achieved so far by NESREA on the programme?
Interestingly, the agency has recorded a couple of milestones, including the development of operational guidelines for EPR programme in Nigeria; engagement with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) comprising Dell, HP, Nokia, Phillips, etc for the modalities to implement the EPR for EEE sector and hosting of consultative meetings with the key stakeholders to operationalize the implementation of the project. NESREA has also intensified efforts through the alert system at national, regional and international levels to curb illegal shipment of electronic waste and create a robust on-going awareness campaign on EPR in collaboration with some key stakeholders.
In addition, NESREA has established the Alliance on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ASCP) involving other organizations like Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and National Automotive Council (NAC).
The objectives of the alliance are to eliminate hazardous products from the market; control illegal importation and transboundary movement of sub-standard products and hazardous substances (e.g. e- waste); and enforce quality standards in products and services.
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