An address by Engr. Olufeko Olufemi, Director e-Governance Federal Ministry of Communication and digital economy Abuja during the 5th Regional Stakeholders’ Discussion on Environment and Safety Held at University of Ibadan, South West Nigeria.
An environment can be defined as the surrounding conditions in which a person, animal, or plants survives or operate. It has been observed in recent times that the harmful effect of human activities on the environment leads to environmental issues. This includes water pollution, air pollution, over population, solid waste management (sorting, disposal, and recycling), deforestation, ozone layer depletion and global warming.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, refers to all items of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by its owner as waste without the intent of re-use. According to International Telecommunications Union (ITU), E-waste, also known as Waste Electrical and Electronic equipment (WEEE), is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, according to the Global E-waste Monitor. E-Waste covers six waste categories:
Temperature exchange equipment, more commonly referred to as cooling and freezing equipment. Typical equipment includes refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, heat pumps.
Screens, monitors. Typical equipment includes televisions, monitors, laptops, notebooks, and tablets.
Lamps. Typical equipment includes fluorescent lamps, high intensity discharge lamps, and LED lamps.
Large equipment. Typical equipment includes washing machines, clothes dryers, dish-washing machines, electric stoves, large printing machines, copying equipment, and photovoltaic panels.
Small equipment. Typical equipment includes vacuum cleaners, microwaves, ventilation equipment, toasters, electric kettles, electric shavers, scales, calculators, radio sets, video cameras, electrical and electronic toys, small electrical and electronic tools, small medical devices, small monitoring and control instruments.
Small IT and telecommunication equipment. Typical equipment includes mobile phones, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), pocket calculators, routers, personal computers, printers, telephones.
Each product of the six e-waste categories has a different lifetime profile, which means that each category has different waste quantities, economic values, as well as potential environmental and health impacts. E-waste, when treated inadequately, poses serious health issues since it contains hazardous components, including contaminating air, water, and soil, and putting people’s health at risk. Dismantling processes that do not utilize adequate means, facilities, and trained people pose additional threats to people and the planet.
The rapid growth of the digital society and consumer demand for digital devices is contributing to what has been coined as a tsunami of e-waste, by the United Nations (UN). Immediate action is required in order to protect human health and the environment from the consequences of inadequate handling and disposal of our discarded devices.
The following are ways to solve environmental safety issues.
Zero waste practice that involves donating used products to others instead of disposing off
Proper recycling of waste. Which involves knowing what can and cannot be replaces and the use of proper separation bags
Replace disposable items with reusable items. It is a good idea to replace disposable items with reusable items. For example: The use of rechargeable battery in place of non-rechargeable battery (disposal of which releases toxins to the environment) and use of reusable bags for shopping in place of individual small packages.
Use less paper to reduce deforestation
Conserve water/ Do not waste water e.g. lock the water tap while brushing your teeth and water your plant before sun shines to avoid much evaporation
The above are some of the practical ways, even though they are not exhaustive ways of solving issues concerning safety of environment
In meeting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it has been identified that a clear understanding and management of e-waste is closely linked to Goal 3 (Good health and Well-being), Goal 6 (Clean water and Sanitation), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), Goal 14 (Life Below Water), and Goal 8 (Decent
Work and Economic Growth). While it is agreed that proper e-waste management will help address the SDGs related to environmental protection and health, it will also address employment and economic growth, since the sound management of e-waste can create new areas of employment and drive entrepreneurship.
The problem of e-waste is of particular concern in the world’s least developed countries, which receive significant amounts of used EEE either legally for reuse or illegally (e.g. in transboundary shipments of non-usable equipment received in contravention of the Basel Convention or through dumping). Least developed countries often lack the policies, legal instruments, regulations, technology, and infrastructure needed for the environmentally sound management of e-waste recycling, and this, together with limited awareness of the adverse consequences of inadequate e-waste management, constitutes a challenge to their treatment of telecommunication/ICT-derived waste.
Governments around the world are developing national e-waste policies and legislation to deal with the growth of end-of-life electrical and electronic products. The legal, regulatory and policy framework allowing for the environmentally sound management of telecommunication/ICT-derived waste. Such a framework should cover both the design and organization of an e-waste management system and its enforcement on the basis of a set of stringent minimum standards. Such a policies lay out plans or courses of action and indicate, in a non-binding manner, what can be achieved by a society, institution, or company. Legislations are enacted at the national or municipal level and enforced by regulators, and a regulation indicates the way in which a legislation is enforced by regulators.
In Nigeria, Key policies governing eWaste include the National Environmental (Electrical/Electronic Sector) Regulations (S.I. No 23 of 2011), the Import of Used Electrical Electronic Equipment (UEEE) Guidelines, 2011 and the Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions) Act, 2004. There are several documents in draft stage, including the National Electrical/Electronic Waste Management Policy and Guidance for the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programme for the electrical sector. At the national level, the Federal Ministry of Environment is tasked with ensuring implementation of the draft policy. NESREA, as the regulator, is responsible for the planning of targets, issuance and enforcement of the guidelines, monitoring performance. The EPR seeks to shift responsibility for the product lifecycle onto producers, who are thereby incentivized to invest in more eco-friendly designs, or products that can be repaired, remanufactured or recycled.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) of the Federal Ministry of Communications has championed the development of eWaste regulation with a view:
To provide regulatory framework for the management and control of Ewaste in the Telecommunications Industry;
To promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery to reduce its disposal;
To improve the environmental management system of all operators involved in the life circle of all Type Approved EEE set out by the Commission in order to ensure the implementation of the ISO 14000 and any subsequent
To provide standards relevant to the Telecommunications industry.
To reduce greenhouse emission, create green jobs and contribute towards sustainable development.
The regulation when put in place will amongst other things contain the following:
Responsibilities of Manufacturers such as collection and channelling of E-waste generated from the ‘end-of-life’; mechanism used for channelling of E-waste from ‘end-of-life’ products; general scheme for collection of waste electrical/electronic equipment from the electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market earlier; measures to reduce the quantities of end-of-life EEE from private household eliminated with unsorted household waste; provide contact details such as address, e-mail address, toll-free telephone numbers or helpline numbers to consumer(s) or bulk consumer(s) through its website and product user documentation to facilitate return of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment; and create awareness through media, publications, advertisements, posters, or by any other means of communication and product user documentation accompanying the equipment.
Responsibilities of collection and disposal facility agent shall employ environmentally sound management system in treatment, storage and disposal of E-waste; collect E-waste on behalf of manufacturer vendor, operator and recycler; ensure that the E-waste it collects is stored in a secured manner; ensure that no damage is caused to human health and environment during storage and transportation; ensure that no damage is caused to human health and environment during storage and transportation; not to dispose E-waste in trash receptacles or at a dump site or landfill; not to incinerate E-waste in a way that will adversely affect human health and environment; maintain records of the E-waste handled and make such records available for scrutiny whenever demanded.
Responsibilities of Vendors.
Responsibilities of Consumer or bulk consumer.
Responsibilities of recycler.
Responsibilities of Importer.
Responsibilities of Transporter.
In addition, the regulation shall include procedures for obtaining appropriate licences; criteria for revocation and suspension of licences obtained; exposure control for individuals and public areas and penalties/sanctions for violation.
It is expected that any regulation developed on eWaste in Nigeria may be hindered by known contributors to policy failure such as overly optimistic expectations; implementation in dispersed governance – Federal, State and LGAs; inadequate collaborative policymaking and lack of cooperation from stakeholders; and the vagaries of the political cycle. Professional Institutions such the Environment and Safety Management Institute will be an invaluable body in ensuring the development and implementation of regulations that would impact positively on the environment and the good health and well-being of citizens.