Tunji Bello, the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources in Lagos State, says indiscriminate disposal of e-waste posed a serious challenge to the health of residents and the environment.
Bello made the assertion on Monday in Lagos at a sensitisation event as Nigeria for the first time, commemorated the International E-Waste Day with the theme: “E-Waste Management and the Achievement of the Social Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria”.
“E-waste contains hazardous materials which if not managed can cause great health and environmental threats to our society.
“Because there is no boundary in the environment, solving e-waste problems starts with sensitisation and advocacy.
“Sustainable recycling which minimises the dangers of e-waste disposal should be preached across all levels,” Bello represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ronke Odeneye said.
Bello said that observance of the Day was linked to the third, sixth, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th SDG’s of the United Nations.
These goals include good health and well being, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water and life on land respectively, he said.
According to him, in 2018, more than fifty organisations worldwide organised conferences and workshops to mark International E-waste Day.
Adedolapo Fasawe, the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental protection Agency (LASEPA), said that e-waste as a concept was hardly understood by the average Nigerian.
LASEPA is the agency responsible for setting standards to ensure that e-waste products are disposed of safely in the state.
According to Fasawe, the mission of LASEPA is to safeguard environmental quality consistent with the social and economic needs of the state, so as to protect health, welfare, property, and quality of life.
“The issue of e-waste is an awakening that we all need to take out there.
“We need to ensure that Nigeria stops being a dumping ground for e-waste and other related items,” she said.
She added that the informal sector of society should be absorbed into the advantages of proper e-waste management.
“Citizens should be encouraged to participate in all phases of e-waste management,” Fasawe said.
NAN also reports that officials from the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency(NESREA) and E-Waste Producer Responsibility Organisation Nigeria (EPRON) were present at the event.
The United Nations Information Center (UNIC) collaborated with International Labour Organisation(ILO), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and others to organise a sensitisation event in Lagos to observe the Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Day was set up to raise awareness about e-waste recycling and the benefits of the valuable materials of e-waste for manufacturing new products.
E-wastes are obsolete, old and tattered electronic and electrical items which include computers, tablets, phones, heating and cooling equipment, among others.
These items which are most times disposed of by placing them in landfills, burning or treated in substandard ways cause serious health and environmental hazards.
According to a United Nations (UN) report, the world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) a year.
This weighs more than all of the commercial airliners ever made and only 20 per cent is formally recycled.
The report also reveals that the e-waste produced annually is worth over 62.5 billion dollars which is more than the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) of most countries.
Different markets in Lagos, including the Computer Village, Alaba, and a host of others represent the biggest West African markets for new and used electrical products.
NAN also reports that a sensitisation walk was initially carried out in the early hours of the day to raise awareness about the dangers of e-waste.