By Olasheinde Akinlonu
At a virtual conference on the 19th of November, 2020,Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, called on journalists to partner with government to publicize information on the Extended Producers Responsibility programme.
At the conference, which had the theme : “Extended Producer Responsibility Programme under the Circular Economy :Tackling E-Waste .”, the minister stated that journalism has been a great tool in promoting important facts, creating awareness and information dissemination among important players such as stakeholders, regulated communities and that this exposes us to an avenue of possible collaborations with other agencies.
She said, “On a daily basis, we can see the news that flood the media on the state of the nation, the economy, the environment and also mismanaged waste, which affects the environment as well. ” She further stated that it’s important to Publicize the latest trends, including projects aimed at addressing emerging challenges and also ensuring joint efforts with the media in promoting and protecting the environment for our future generations.
She added that Nigeria has made a lot of strides in the environmentally sound management of e-waste through the implementation of the EPR programme, but there’s need to do more. To achieve this, she urged journalists to publicize information on the EPR programme to bring about a change in the ideology of the general public towards a sustainable development and to foster effective environmental governance.
At the online summit, Mr Feng Weng, the United Nation Environment Programme(UNEP) representative,gave a lecture on:”Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronic Sector in Nigeria. ” He stated that his organization is working with the electronic sector in Nigeria to redesign a system to keep the value of the products and materials in the value-chain with best function in value while they do not pollute the lands and oceans, rivers and air of electronics.
Mr Weng enunciated that gef and UNEP are bringing international experience in the management of e-waste, give inspiration in the advancements of polcy work and that these international institutions can use Nigeria as a role model for other African countries. He stated that work started in June 2019 and will last for another two years.
Mr Weng stated that the major components of UNEP’s work is to support the ministry of environment and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to implement the EPR Policy and System, support government to enforce legislation by providing more detailed technical guidance and also learning from other countries and support the private sector to establish and manage a collective system to collect and treat e-waste. He said, “We’ll collect 300 tonnes of different electronics from different channels and recycle them.”
He declared that his institution supports NESREA to gazette technical guidance for EPR, which gives a clear framework target of how producers should be taking care of e-waste in a very efficient way. And that, by publishing this document, they also provide support to further amend the regulation of e-waste introduced several years ago. He said that they also help the producer,the responsibility organization, E-Waste Producers Responsibility Organization of Nigeria (EPRON), to improve its management and operation through technical support and also bring networks of global companies or agencies to support the EPR project.
He stated that we are confined at our work places, homes, using Information Technology equipment and electronic gadgets, even more intensely than before, because we cannot congregate physically as we used to,as a result of the COVID -19 pandemic. He said that these electronic technology will eventually become waste in the end. And that, this has necessitated a new mandate and task on effective waste management.
Mr Weng also addressed the need to partner with consumers to help protect the environment. And lastly, like the previous speaker, he said that journalists have a very important role to play in terms of spreading the news and raising awareness about the new policy, helping the government and. NESREA to send messages to producers.
The UNEP representative hinted that Nigeria is one of the early countries in Africa that introduced legislation on e-waste, including domestic EPR legislation, management, transpondary movement ,control of import and the introduction of license for collectors and recyclers.
Mrs Ibukun Faluyi ,an official of EPRON, enumerated the role of EPRON in the implementation and value -chain management of the EPR project and the significant role of the media in raising awareness of the EPR project and the work of her organization,at the meeting.
In his keynote address, Professor Aliyu Jauro, Director-General ,NESREA, spoke on government’s role in the circular economy and the EPR framework. He highlighted the provisions of the EPR project, its benefits in the creation of jobs, among other things. Professor Jauro concluded that if the EPR programme is properly implemented, it will solve the e-waste management problem in the country.
However, Professor Jauro stated that the implementation of the EPR programme is currently being carried out for three waste streams :plastics, electrical electronics and batteries.
The last speaker of the summit, Professor Lai Oso, Professor of Communication,University of Lagos, discussed the role of the media in managing e-waste in Nigeria.
The communication scholar stressed that the capitalist industrial system run by Nigeria, seems to contribute largely to the environmental problems in the country. He said that any public initiative needs public support and that underscores the importance of the mass media. “The media are important tools or instruments of the development process, especially, in national development.”,he opined. He stated that the media in today’s world, are the main mechanism or social institution for the creation and dissemination of public information and knowledge.
He further stated that the media provide the most accessible forum for people acquire knowledge about what is going on, around them. The media, he said, “perform these functions through news, features articles, editorials, news analysis, cartoons, photographs, virtuals and so on. “
Professor Oso, however, expressed his displeasure at the lopsided coverage of environmental issues in Nigeria. He said, “The environment and issues connected to it, do not attract regular media attention, unless there’s a problem.
Media attention to the environment tends to be crisis or problem-driven.” He stressed that most of the stories in media coverage of environmental issues are tilted towards assigning blames,but when it comes to the real issue of environmental problems, to gather information and learn, there’s little coverage of such aspects.
The communication kahuna added that journalists should avail themselves for several workshops organized by NESREA and other agencies, for capacity building and training, for journalists to have adequate knowledge of the e-waste management, know what they’re doing, approach their work from the position of comprehensive and adequate knowledge in the area. And that, this is what will help them to provide the right kind of information for the public.
The summit which was moderated by Dr Mike Omeri, ended with an interactive session of questions and answers