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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

SRADev, NESREA proffer guideline for effective waste batteries management

Having identified health and environmental hazards associated with substandard recycling activities of lead acid batteries, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at promoting responsible battery recycling and responsible sourcing of secondary non-ferrous metals from Used Lead Acid Batteries (ULABs) has been launched in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

Used lead-acid batteries
Used lead-acid batteries

Dr. Leslie Adogame, Executive Director of the Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria) made the submission during a workshop and capacity building tagged “Partnership for Responsible Battery and Metal Recycling (ProBaMet)” on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Explaining the significance of the project, Adogame said: “At SRADeV-Nigeria we recommend recycling as a best approach of material recovery for any waste material, but it has to be done in environmentally sound way.

“We decided that raising a national advocacy is the way to go and to do it better is to collaborate with institutions either from a policy point of view or a regulatory point of view.

“Collaborative efforts because ULABs is a big employer of labour and where there is no capacity and there is no economic consideration in terms of employability then we really need to look at it from both sides.

“This is not about closing any facility; it is about how we get the facilities to upgrade in such a way that our interest is the environment is safe and they do their business in environmentally sound way.

“ProBaMet is a project initiative that is bringing different angles of partnership between government, industries and communities in such a way that their capacity will be built, their enabling environment will be enhanced, whatever gaps that is responsible for unsound recycling practices, we all look at it and we address it together,” he stressed.

Mr. Ola Oresanya, Commissioner, Ogun State Ministry of Environment, while appreciating SRADeV-Nigeria for facilitating the workshop, noted that the ProBaMet project is one of the key points in circular economy programme.

“In Ogun State, on a daily basis we recycle more than 1200 Metric Tonnes of batteries, making the state with the highest number of recycling companies in Nigeria. The ferrous and non-ferrous industries are domiciled in Ogun State, combined among these industries is about 1400 Metric Tonnes of batteries being recycled and we take ULABs as non-ferrous components which are being recycled.

“For every recycling process there is always consequences because it is more dangerous to have secondary handling for these materials than the factory material. Identifying the radioactive metals from non-radioactive metals is by using technology that can help in scanning and the consequences of recycling.”

Prof. Aliyu Jauro, Director General of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), noted that “batteries which power automobiles and alternative energy systems pose a significant concern due to their content of toxic lead and mercury exposure which can lead to severe heart issues including memory loss, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, kidney damage and even death”.

Prof. Jauro, who was represented by Abdul-Salam Isa, Director, Inspection and Enforcement of NESREA, said: “Nigeria has seen a surge in the use of usually acid lead batteries given their affordability and availability. While these batteries offer tremendous benefits, improper handling during the recycling process has resulted in environmental contamination and compromise human safety.

“To ensure sustainable development, the Federal Government established NESREA with the mandate to enforce national compliance.”

Mr. Andreas Manhart, representing Oeko Institute Germany, opined that the overall objective of the project is to work together with recyclers and regulators to define the effective ULABs management in Nigeria.

He said: “The recyclers have to run their operations profitably and the regulations have the job of keeping the country and the people safe and clean.

“Having worked in many European countries, one of the major challenges faced by ULABs is that, apart from battery recycling being a profitable business, increasing the profitability, the recyclers need to keep the environment clean and the workers safe. This is a short-sighted aspect because in the long run you will have liabilities like workers suing the company for pollution.

“So, we are interested in finding a solution before pollution goes. Unfortunately, this is not the case in all the countries we have been to. We are engaged in this project to share experiences and also to bring knowledge on how it can be done properly. It is not a rocket science, this type of solution has been conducted all over the world in the last 20 years without polluting, so technically it is certainly possible even with a profit.”

Dignitaries at the event include the Ologijo of Ogijo, Oba Kazeem Gbadamosi, representatives from government agencies and other stakeholders.

The workshop was hosted by the Ogun State Ministry of Environment and financed by the Initiative for Global Solidarity.

By Ajibola Adedoye

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