By Kingsley Adegboye
Electronic waste has become a growing concern in today’s environment, particularly in developing nations such as Nigeria.
Subsequently, stakeholders are not leaving any stone unturned to address the menace of the trend through proper handling and management of the scourge popularly called e-waste.
Electronics waste is the trash generated from surplus, broken, and obsolete electronic devices which contain various toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials that are released into the environment if not properly disposed.
A forefront advocate and champion of proper e-waste management for sustainable environment in Nigeria is Dr. Ifeanyi Ochonogor, Chief Executive Officer of E-Terra Technologies Limited, Nigeria’s pioneering electronics waste recycling and data destruction organisation.
Ochonogor who is also the President of Electronic Relief Waste Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, created in 2018, to deal with the environmental and health crises in the country and to create awareness about the proper way to dispose electronics waste, lamented that “We have gone far to see how we can manage our electronics waste system in Nigeria because the sector is in a serious crisis situation”
According to Ochonogor who spoke on the issue in his office in Yaba, Lagos weekend, “We are losing billions because of lack of proper management of e-waste in Nigeria. The situation of e-waste in Nigeria is from cradle to grave. Resources are required to manufacture new electronic products.
“Some of the resources the producing countries need to produce new electronic products are from here. And what happens is that once these things are consumed by us or the developing nations, only 20 per cent of what is consumed gets to the countries that produced them. Now, where does the rest go? The rest goes to the underdeveloped countries all over the world.
“China has arrested the situation at the moment. They are saying we cannot accept waste any more. But the waste now comes to Nigeria, Ghana and the rest of the underdeveloped nations of the world. And we are part of those countries without strong e-waste management system. This what has led us to do what we are currently doing just to save the country from crisis of e-waste”.
The CEO of E-Terra Technologies Limited who disclosed that his Foundation has done two events, one in 2018, called Lagos E-Waste Handlers Capacity and Enhancement Programme, which was done in October of that year, and another one in September 2019, titled LASEP 2, to create awareness about proper handling and management of e-waste in Nigeria, said the funding is not been there, pointing out however, that but one thing that has been done by government is that “We did the two events in collaboration with Lagos state and the federal government. LASEPA, LAWMA, Federal Ministry of Environment and their agencies were all at the events to give their support.
“With the events, we have shown our capacity about what we can do to the government and to the world, and Nigerians especially because the events weres covered by the media- both print and electronic. We are doing our best for the development of the industry from the company point of view, and also from the Foundation point of view because our objective is not about revenue generation.
“Our major objective is how to deal with electronics waste in Nigeria and west Africa because it is a serious issue. This is where our focus really is, and ECOWAS has taken notice of the project we have done in Nigeria, and not only ECOWAS, European Union is equally aware of what we are doing. The United Nation was around last year when they heard that Nigeria will start producing from e-waste recycled materials.
“When it comes to the terms of the impact of e-waste on the economy of the nation, we usually use the cancer rate. You know our cancer rate has gone up, and it is up to one million cases per annum now. This keeps increasing because of the impact of electronics waste on people. Electronics wastes are hazardous and very harmful.
“For instance, the plastic of your phone is not the same thing as ordinary plastic. The plastic of a phone is very hard, and this is so in order for it to be able to absolve heat, and because it absolves heat, it is toxic and harmful to humans.
“This is why it has to be properly disposed, and if it is not properly disposed, people will be exposed to its toxic effect. But from cradle to grave approach which is the production and recycling system respectively, we can begin to recycle e-waste to produce new products”
“There are critical stakeholders who believe in what we are doing and they are supporting us to keep doing what we are doing because of our youths and the entire environment.
“My message to the general public is that let everybody be conscious of how electronics waste is being handled. If it is mismanaged, the effect of it will be everybody’s problem. This means the entire ecosystem will be poisoned, the food on your table will be poisoned because of improper handling of electronics waste”, E-Waste Foundation boss noted