Electronic waste recycling firm, Hinckley Associates Nigeria, has commenced the training of groups and individuals in how to handle e-waste.
E-waste is made up of remnants of electronic equipment like computers, printers, televisions, radios, telephones, refrigerators, among others, with components that contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium.
The Managing Director, Hinckley Associates Nigeria, Mr. Adrian Clews, stated that with Nigeria generating one million tonnes of e-waste annually, and most of the recycling being done by the informal sector, there was a need for education in order to save the environment and protect human health.
Clews stated that the Hinckley Group had been in Nigeria for 20 years and had partnered Hewlett Packard for 17 years, where it learnt that Nigeria did not have end of life solutions for electronic waste, and opened a facility in Ojota last year dedicated to e-waste recycling.
The firm commenced the series with a week-long training of members of the Association of Vendors of Used Computers and Allied Products.
The training was followed by a physical examination and testing of 11 scavengers, in association with Juli Laboratories.
Clews said the scavengers were unaware of the dangers of improper disposal of electronic waste and had engaged in the business of extracting the valuable components from disused gadgets without the proper equipment for years.
He stated, “Some of those electronic waste contain harmful substances. All of them are safe when in use but when you start burning or breaking them, they become harmful, especially burning when people breathe them in. Most of the waste contain mostly mercury and lead, and just by touching those metals people expose themselves to danger.
“Today, we invited some of the guys from the dumpsites; some of them are not aware of the health risks, they just want to extract some valuable materials to sell, but they are not managing the hazardous materials and today we want to test them to see if there has been any harm to their health and if there are toxins within their system and know what kind of toxins and if they originated from e-waste.”
He added that the training and testing for toxins in the system would be expanded to other states, with a view to knowing the damage e-waste was doing to the environment.
“It goes beyond the scavengers; those who live around the area can also be affected. There seems to be a serious problem with scavengers taking e-waste from homes and offices, and in trying to extract the valuables, they mismanage the hazardous components. Scavengers will typically leave the glass of some of the waste on the ground and sell the coppers, but these glasses have lead that can go into the soil,” Clews added.
According to him, the firm is also working with the Ogun State Government to test 45 people by next month as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility.
The President, AVUCAP, Mr. Ifeanyi Maduagwu, said the association, which was formed a few years ago, had been handling e-waste the informal way but that with the training by Hinckley, members would begin to do the right thing.
He also called for more training, adding, “There are 500 people collecting e-waste, who need to be trained to get it right and save the environment.”
Clews said environmental agencies at both the federal and state levels should take charge and stop people from selling e-waste to those who would not handle them properly.
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