E-waste: A Topical Issue on Environmental Degradation in Nigeria

E-waste: A Topical Issue on Environmental Degradation in Nigeria

By Oko Ebuka

The informal recycling of Electronic wastes otherwise referred to as E-waste has been causing environmental haphazard in the country by emitting unwanted chemicals which affects human health and increases high mortality rate.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the concern about E-waste arises from the fact that it contains about 1,000 hazardous substances such as toxins which are released to the environment from prevalent recycling practices where cables are burnt, process to extract copper and other precious like gold, diamond, etc.

These substances in the environment however, interfere with the body functional processes increasing risk of stroke, heart diseases, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases including asthma and many other health problems.

Also, high mortality rate have been recorded from the inhalation of this noxious and toxic emission from informal recycling of e-waste.

According to the findings of Basel Action Network, from Basel centre, Nigeria study of 2005, about 500,000 used computers are imported in into the country annually through the Lagos port alone.

And an estimated 25% of the imports were functional while 75% were junks or unserviceable which is eventually burnt or dumped, the ministry said.

Areola affirmed that the project which is now backed up by law will aid in curbing the excessive wrong recycling across the nation and create job opportunities.

“This project is apt considering volumes of waste being generated and the need to use waste as a resource to grow the economy and generate employments along the waste value chain.

“The federal government has programmed a legal framework for curbing this menace through NESREA”, she said.

Disclosing this to journalists during the formal launching and inception meeting of project tagged “Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics Sector in Nigeria”, organized by National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, in conjunction with United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, and Global Environment Facility, GEF, recently held in lagos, the permanent secretary who was represented by Mrs. Oluwatoyin Areola, said that the project is mainly focused on life-cycle management to achieve a zero waste environment.

 “This is the underlining dynamism in the implementation of the extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) programme focused on the life cycle management of waste towards achieving a zero waste.

Also in the report, the Federal Ministry of Environment said that about 60,000 tons of used and unused electrical containers are imported in Nigeria per year by only buyers in Lagos ports. This also includes imports to lands from neighboring countries with most imported used electronics and electronic equipment, UEE, partially functional but a fraction still remains non-functional.

From the statistics also, it can be inferred that Nigeria may have imported at least, 15,700 tons of E-wastes most of which are LCD TVs containing mercury, refrigerators, and air conditioners containing HCFCs.

This goes a long way to prove the words of an environmental expert, Professor Oladele Osibanjo, who posited that e-waste is a national issue with global consequences as Nigeria is the only place the world choses to dump e-wastes in Africa.

He hopefully added that Nigeria should embrace the e-waste formal recycling business which has a special attraction and will be resourceful to the economy if properly utilized

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