Initiating Circularity for electronic waste in Nigeria: A promising paradigm for treating e-waste globally
Over half a million tonnes of discarded electronic appliances are improperly processed in Nigeria every year, threatening the country's environment and the health of approximately 100,000 informal workers in the recycling industry.
With support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Nigeria has joined forces with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners to turn the tide on e-waste under the “Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics Sector in Nigeria” project. Led by UNEP and supported by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency of Nigeria (NESREA), the $15-million initiative brought together players from the Government, the private sector, and civil society to design and operationalise a financially self-sustaining circular economy (CE) for electronics in Nigeria.
The project aims to stimulate a CE pilot through an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme that serves as a model for countries facing similar challenges. EPR is an integrated waste management approach that extends the responsibility of manufacturers to the entire lifecycle of their product, particularly to the end-of-life treatment. By applying this approach, the producers will be obliged to commission for collecting, pre-treating and recycling their originated e-waste.
The project creates synergies among pre-existing elements of an EPR system in Nigeria to establish a sustainable management system and financing mechanism for EPR implementation. Establishing and enforcing a sustainable approach in Nigeria with supporting regulations and legally binding requirements is expected to recover and re-introduce usable materials into the value chain, dispose of hazardous e-waste streams in an environmentally sound manner, and create safe employment for Nigerian e-waste workers.