‘Nigeria losing billions of dollars in illegal e-waste exports’
Experts have revealed that Nigeria is losing millions in foreign exchange due to the activities of the informal sector collectors of electronic waste. They urged the government to sanitise the informal e-waste recyclers through proper legislation and awareness creation.
The experts and Lagos government officials who spoke at a one-day programme organized by the E-waste Collectors Association of Nigeria (ECAN) in collaboration with Hinckey group agreed that the informal collectors need to be educated on the dangers of handling e- waste.Over the past two decades, the global market for Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) has continued to grow exponentially and expected to produce over 50million tonnes of waste globally.
However, the disposal of these equipment at end-of-life poses a challenge to the environment and the country at large. Hence, the proper and responsible recycling of the e-waste is receiving a considerable amount of attention by the environmental agencies.
In Ngeria, about 99 per cent of e-waste is handled through informal collection networks, according to Andrian Clews, Managing Director, Hinckley Group, one of Nigeria’s two registered electronic waste recyclers and a partner with the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) on the circular economy project.
Clews explained that the country receives 71,000 tonnes of used consumer goods through the two main ports in Lagos from the European Union and other more industrialized economies every year.He said that some of the e-waste from abroad is comprised of cathode-ray TVs, which contain lead, as well as refrigerators and air conditioners containing hydrochlorofluorocarbons, making it a threat to those who are dismantling and dealing with the products.
Clews stressed that Nigeria is losing billions of naira through illegal shipment of e-waste materials abroad, adding that the informal collectors pose health risks due to poor handling of the e-waste. “If you walk around the informal recycling hubs in Lagos, you will see people using their bare hands to tear apart electronics, trying to extract valuable materials and this is very dangerous. The problem is actually at an epidemic level and the informal recycles also make things worse by dumping the items that are deadly to the environment.
“The informal collectors are not using any protective equipment and no formal training on how to handle electronics and they are exposing themselves to the dangers of that waste. It could lead to issues with the heart, breathing and blood,” Clews added.
Senior officials of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), said that the regulatory body has moved to ensure activities of over 10,000 informal recyclers in the state do not hurt the environment. “We are engaging them to collect e-waste and recycle in an environment-friendly manner,” Olabisi Oyekunle, Assistant Director at LASEPA said.
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