According to a presentation given in 2012 by the Deputy Director in charge of Industrial Compliance Monitoring Division in the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Nigeria is faced with huge challenges in the management of WEEE; these E-wastes are either internally generated or exported (Amachree 2012).
In Nigeria, the scale of urban consumption and waste generation, and the negative impacts associated with them varies dramatically from city to city depending in large part on a city’s wealth and size (Ogungbuyi et al. 2012). Perhaps the greatest environmental nuisance and threat facing the ever-growing urban agglomeration in Nigeria today is the poor collection, transportation and disposal of both municipal and industrial wastes. There is a co-disposal of all wastes in open dumpsites across the country, susceptible to spontaneous burning and release of unintended persistent organic pollutants which are injurious to the environment and human health (Ogungbuyi et al. 2012).
External sources of electronic wastes include the increasing numbers of WEEE that gets to be imported to the country and eventually dumped alongside general municipal waste, and then burnt with them, thus releasing toxic pollutants into the environment (Ogungbuyi et al. 2012).
In an attempt to bridge the digital divide between Nigeria and the technologically developed nations, large quantities of electronic equipment are imported from developed countries. With these equipment, there is no full guaranty of functionality, there is no distinction between items for reuse and items for recycling, most items that function upon arrival only have a short second life as they were old, obsolete and/or damaged in transit (Ogungbuyi et al. 2012).
Nigeria thus resolved to enforce the provisions of the laws prohibiting illegal shipment and dumping of hazardous wastes, while promulgating new ones to reflect current realities. The government thus promulgated the National Environmental (Electrical Electronic Sector) Regulations S.I. No 23 of 2011 (Amachree 2012) among other regulations.
It was studied that E-waste recycling activities in Nigeria include mainly dismantling, uncontrolled dumping as well as pyrolytic processes. There are indications, but no proofs, for hydrolytic processes, such as leaching of precious metals from printed wiring boards. During collection as well as refurbishment or repair of EEE, negative impacts can partly occur, but are generally at a significantly low level. Recycling activities often take place on unfortified grounds where harmful substances released during dismantling are directly discharged to the soil. Burning copper cables and wires, as well as monitor and television casings, creates an accumulation of ash and partially burned materials at the burning sites. Insulating foam from dismantled refrigerators, primarily CFC-containing polyurethane, or old car tires are often used as the main fuels for the fires, contributing to acute chemical hazard and longtime chemical hazard at the burning sites as well as emitting ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Ogungbuyi et al. 2012).
According to respondents in an assessment survey across the country, workers of the E-waste recycling chain are exposed to the hazardous substances in two ways, namely through absorption from skin contact, and inhalation through the burning of cables for the recovery of copper. There is also indication that people are exposed to toxic fumes through the toxic leaching of precious metals. Workers involved in the dismantling and repair aspects complain of incessant cough, irritation of eyes and skin, general weakness/fatigue (Ogungbuyi et al. 2012).
National policies to control WEEE in Nigeria
Known national policies to control WEEE are highlighted below.
The Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions) Act CAP H1, LFN 2004—this prohibits without the harmful carrying, dumping and depositing of harmful wastes in the air, land or waters of Nigeria without lawful authority. Notable sections include:
Section 6: provides for a punishment of life imprisonment for offenders as well as the forfeiture of land or anything used to commit the offense.
Section 12: defines the civil liability of any offender. He would be liable to persons who have suffered injury as a result of his offensive act.
The National Environmental (Electrical/Electronic Sector) Regulations S.I. No 23 of 2011 to address the E-waste problem. The regulation is based on life-cycle approach and it covers both new and used electrical and electronic equipment. Notable highlights include:
Use of basic management tools such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Audit Report (EAR), and Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
Adoption of the principle of reduce, repair, recover, recycle and reuse (also known as the 5Rs principle) and the Polluter Pays Principle.
Guidelines for importation of used electrical and electronic equipment.
Provisions for collection and recycling facilities.
Offences and penalties (Amachree 2012).
The National Environmental Regulations also have some specific provisions such as requiring all importers, exporters, manufacturers, assemblers, distributors and retailers of various brands of electrical and electronic products to be committed to an Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) Program (Amachree 2012). Importers/distributors for all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) traded or donated to individuals, educational institutions, religious organizations, communities or corporate bodies shall also subscribe to an EPR program and partner with NESREA (Amachree 2012).
Manufacturers, importers, distributors or retailers are to take back the end-of-life EEE and set up collection points or centers. These manufacturers and producers of EEE are to ensure environmentally sound management of e-waste from these collection points. Consumers are to return the end-of-life EEE to the collection points. Additionally, all importers of new and/or used EEE are to pay an administrative cost to NESREA to promote environmentally sound management of WEEE (Amachree 2012).
The Basel Action Network (BAN) in conjunction with the Basel Convention Coordinating Center, Nigeria (BCCC- Nigeria) in 2005 concluded, after a study, that 500,000 used computers are imported annually through the Lagos port alone. The study further stated that about 25 % of the imports are functional used electronics while the remaining 75 % are either unserviceable or junk, causing them to be eventually burnt or dumped carelessly (Amachree 2012).
As of 2012, the WEEE status showed that WEEE collection was not organized and that there were no collection centers, resulting in the WEEE being dumped alongside other wastes. A lot of WEEE were also stockpiled in offices and homes a trait of the culture of attachment to materials of memory. Some states however have been documented to have started stockpiling WEEE pending establishment of state-of-the-art recycling facilities (Amachree 2012).
In a report presented at the annual meeting of the Global Management Network (GEM3) by the Deputy Director in charge of Industrial Compliance Monitoring Division (ICM) in National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Mrs. Miranda Amachree, as at July 2013, NESREA has been able to identify and give certification to credible importers of used EEE (UEEE) while sanctioning uncertified importers.
During the period of 1 year, the agency has also repatriated 14 containers and 12 trucks of E-waste while intercepting 17 unregistered importers and imposing necessary punitive charges on them (Amachree 2013).
The aim of the thesis is to investigate the implementation and effectiveness of the regulations mentioned above as well as other existing ones in dealing with these WEEE/E-wastes in Nigeria.