Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics sector in Nigeria

Nigeria | 2019

Objective: stimulate the development and operation of a financially self-sustaining circular economy approach for electronics products in Nigeria, including the treatment and management of e-waste.

Nigeria’s piles of e-waste come both from home and abroad. The country generated 290,000 tonnes of electronic waste in 2017 – a 170% increase against 2009. It is estimated that more than 60,000 tonnes of used electrical and electronics equipment are shipped into the country annually via Lagos ports alone. Over half a million tonnes of discarded appliances are processed in Nigeria every year, threatening both the health of people in the informal recycling industry and the nation’s environment. According to the International Labour Organization, up to 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste recycling sector in Nigeria, collecting and dismantling electronics by hand to reclaim the saleable components.

The Nigerian government approved the National Environmental Regulations on the electronics sector in 2011. But many challenges exist, which limit the enforcement of the regulations, such as illegal trade of e-waste, presence of the informal sector, lack of state-of-the-art collection and recycling infrastructure, and insufficient financial schemes. The regulations have defined the principle of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), but not much action has been made from the private sector.

To address this challenge, UNEP is currently supporting the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency of Nigeria (NESREA) to implement a project “circular economy approaches for the electronics sector in Nigeria”, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The $15-million project is bringing together players along the electronics value chain (from government, the private sector and civil society) to kickstart a financially self-sustaining circular economy approach for electronics in Nigeria, protecting the environment while creating safe employment for thousands of Nigerians. It also connects with stakeholders along the global electronics value chain to bring forward recommendations on product design for circularity. The initiative is designed to transform the challenge of dealing with a growing production of electronics waste and aims to promote a circular economy for electronics in Nigeria in which the electronics sector recovers and reintroduces usable materials into the value chain and disposes of hazardous waste streams in an environmentally sound manner. It engages all the relevant stakeholders in the value chain to develop cost-effective value retention businesses, including recycling and disposal systems for electronic products, while ensuring that informal workers in the sector, such as e-waste collectors and recyclers, have opportunities to improve their livelihoods, working conditions, and their health and safety.

The intervention focuses on four key areas:

    1. The Government of Nigeria and Producers jointly implement the Extended Producers Responsibility legislation for electronics, by jointly defining a roadmap for Nigeria, including target setting, methodology and approach for data registration and management, as well as the definition of levy needed for different types of products.
    2. 300 t of e-waste are collected through formalized collection channels that minimize environmental and health impacts.
    3. The project develops a cost-effective recycling and disposal systems for various e-waste categories, achieving the target of recycling the collected 300 t of e-waste.
    4. Core of the initiative is also to develop regional and global knowledge exchange on circular economy model for the electronics sector. The objective is therefore to have an impact beyond Nigeria through the development of a practical circular electronics model for Africa and beyond, by sharing best practices, promoting regional and global dialogue, and engaging global manufacturers.

This project is the first demonstration project in the electronics sector under the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), a public-private collaboration mechanism and project accelerator dedicated to bringing about the circular economy at speed and scale.

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