Recycling of Waste Electronic & Electrical Equipment (WEEE): scope to improve productivity and safety in the informal sector, a case study from Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The global flows and management of WEEE also controls the flow of many critical and precious elements, lost from the global economy with recent values at >$62 billion (WEF 2019). The WEEE mountain is predicted to hit 120 million tonnes by 2050. High level policy in many regions looks to stimulate more circular electronics systems recovering and re using primary materials and offering rental or leasing to maximise recycling and product use. Currently much of this waste is landfilled or informally processed in developing countries, by informal pickers.
Annual WEEE management in Nigeria is over 1.1 million tonnes from domestic and (often illegally) imported materials, with The responses were predominantly from men, working in the sector for more than 5 years, >50% between 35 and 50 years old. Most worked informally because of the absence of other opportunities and identified manual dismantling and burning of plastic materials as a common method to collect valuable materials. There was some concern that a mix of near end of life devices with WEEE created problems with equipment sale for re-use versus resource recovery operations. The absence of environmental and occupational health and safety systems was acknowledged and the respondents identified a range of poor practice and lack of infrastructure support. Support was given to proposals to manage WEEE handling and disposal with government incentives, restricting hazardous practice. The introduction of concepts to apply lean processing principles to improve device throughput and reduce exposure to potentially harmful substances welcomed by the respondents. Ultimately the study identified tangible routes to improve conditions of waste pickers.
Period5 Jul 2023
Event title38th International Conference of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry & Health
Event typeConference
LocationAthens, GreeceShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational