Sustainable Development

Recycling e-waste in Nigeria protects planet and creates safe jobs

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This initiative helps accelerate the processes for recycling e-waste in Nigeria

This initiative brings together various stakeholders to accelerate the processes for recycling e-waste in Nigeria

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By kickstarting a sustainable electronics economy in Nigeria, this collaboration will protect the environment and create safe employment for thousands of people.

The impact.

The Nigerian government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment have launched a new $15 million initiative to turn the tide on e-waste in Nigeria.

This new initiative, funded by a small fee included on the sale of electronics, will transform Nigeria’s hazardous informal recycling sector into a formally legislated system, and benefits will be felt by all stakeholders.

A global model for a circular electronics system, the project was announced at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 and will kickstart a sustainable electronics economy in Nigeria, protecting the environment while creating safe employment for thousands of people.


What's the challenge in recycling e-waste?

E-waste is now the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Indeed, we generated the equivalent of 4,500 Eiffel Towers of electronic waste in a single year. And yet just 20% of gets collected and recycled.

With 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore, alongside other scarce and valuable materials such as platinum, cobalt and rare earth elements, a safe and efficient recycling industry has huge economic potential.

According to the International Labour Organization, up to 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste recycling sector in Nigeria, and over half a million tonnes of discarded appliances are processed in the country every year. Yet waste that is considered to have no economic value is often dumped or burned – releasing pollutants like heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the air, water and soil.

Our approach to recycling e-waste.

This new scheme led by the Nigerian government, brings together players from international organizations, the private sector and civil society. It is part of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) built by the World Economic Forum, and sees cooperation with recyclers and electronics manufactures Dell, HP, Microsoft and Phillips.

The initiative will develop systems for the disposal of non-usable and toxic waste, aiming to collect, treat and dispose of more than 270 tonnes of e-waste contaminated with persistent organic pollutants and 30 tonnes of waste containing mercury.

The project also aims 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. The Forum also brought global attention to the challenge and opportunity for circular electronics at the 2019 Annual Meeting, launching a report in collaboration with 7 UN Agencies: A New Vision for Electronics.

How can you get involved?

PACE is looking for opportunities to scale and replicate the recycling e-waste system in partnership with more companies and in other countries.

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