The Nigerian government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment have announced the launch of a new $15 million initiative to turn the tide on e-waste in Nigeria.
A global model for a circular electronics system–The project was announced at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 to kickstart a sustainable electronics economy in Nigeria, that can protect environment while creating safe employment for many.
The initiative aims to transform Nigeria’s current informal and hazardous recycling into a formally legislated system that benefits all participants by including a small fee on the sale of electronics to subsidise formal recycling.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, Ibukun Odusote, said e-waste is a ‘grave danger’ to both the environment and human health in Nigeria.
“This intervention by Global Environment Facility aims to stimulate the development of a sustainable circular economy for electronic products in Nigeria.” She noted that the project would also support the E-waste Producers Responsibility Organization – a key initiative of the Government of Nigeria to promote sustainable production and consumption by encouraging producers to take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products.
With 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore, alongside other scarce and valuable materials such as platinum, cobalt and rare earth elements, a safe and efficient recycling industry has huge economic potential.
According to the International Labour Organization, up to 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste recycling sector in Nigeria, and over half a million tonnes of discarded appliances are processed in the country every year. Yet waste that is considered to have no economic value is often dumped or burned – releasing pollutants like heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the air, water and soil.
Dominic Waughray, Managing Director and Head of the Centre for Global Public Goods at the Forum said, “This project demonstrates how the circular economy can spur economic growth, create jobs and benefit the environment. As a platform for public-private collaboration, the World Economic Forum is delighted by the teamwork between recyclers and electronics manufacturers working side by side with government and international organizations to reach shared goals”
The initiative will develop systems for the disposal of non-usable and toxic waste, aiming to collect, treat and dispose of more than 270 tonnes of e-waste contaminated with persistent organic pollutants and 30 tonnes of waste containing mercury.
The $15 million scheme plans to bring together players from government, the private sector and civil society. It is part of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) of the World Economic Forum, which sees cooperation with recyclers and electronics manufactures Dell, HP, Microsoft and Phillips. According to the website, PACE is looking for opportunities to scale and replicate the system in partnership with more companies and in other countries.
The project also aims to have an impact beyond Nigeria through the development of a practical circular electronics model for Africa and other countries.
The initiative sits within the Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics Sector in Nigeria project and will be implemented by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency.