E-waste Management in Nigeria

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Electronic wastes (e-wastes) are all items of electrical and electronic equipment and its parts that have been discarded by its owner as waste without the intent of reuse.

Pros of E-waste Management

Sustainable management and zero waste processing of electronic waste enable the recovery of a vast amount of critical and precious metals (alongside other scarce and valuable materials such as platinum and cobalt), rare earth elements and energy generation that help to achieve a circular economy. The formal process protects human health and the environment.

Waste-to-energy technologies offer a more environmentally friendly option than relying on fossil fuels–while also addressing the challenge of ever-growing plastic pollution, gas emissions and leaching of hazardous chemicals from informal recycling.

Cons of E-waste Management

Waste-to-energy technologies could release a mixture of contaminants, causing exposure to multiple substances.

In the informal e-waste recycling sector in Nigeria, workers are directly exposed to hazardous chemicals and commonly suffer respiratory and dermatological problems, eye infections and lower than average life expectancy.

To tackle this problem, 

• the Ministry of Environment and the populace should help to improve the efficiency of services for collection, transportation, use, and disposal of this type of waste;

• advocacy campaigns through leaflets and media announcements would help to educate young and old about the need to recycle personal e-waste and how they can do it. Series of training sessions on processing electronic waste should organized, focusing on economic benefits of Extended Producer Responsibility, methods of management of chemicals in electronics, effective strategies to collect electronic waste and its healthy disintegration; and

• dozens of eco-boxes should be installed in large stores in the cities. An incentive programme would urge people to turn in their old phones and electronic devices in return for discounts on future purchases.

Download: Towards a circular economy for electronics

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