Used Vehicles Shipped to Nigeria Hide Tonnes of Illegal E-Waste

  • 2018•04•19     Bonn

    A two-year study into used electrical and electronic equipment (UEEE) sent to Nigeria, mostly from European ports, has revealed a continuing “severe problem” of non-compliance with international and national rules governing such shipments.

    This annual volume of imported e-waste, prohibited under both the Basel Convention and the EU’s Waste Shipment Directive, was assessed at some 60,000 metric tonnes in both 2015 and 2016. Almost 70% of the UEEE reaching Lagos each year arrived inside vehicles destined for Nigeria’s second-hand auto market, while just 30% arrived in shipping containers.

    The study report — co-authored by the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Africa (BCCC-Africa) and the Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme of United Nations University Vice-Rectorate in Europe — found that more than 60% of the UEEE imported in containers was declared in official paperwork to be household goods or personal effects, while the UEEE imported in used vehicles was mostly undeclared.

    By weight, LCD-TVs and flat panel monitors accounted for 18% of Nigeria’s imported UEEE, followed by CRT-TVs and CRT-monitors (14%) — which are formally banned from importation —  photocopying machines (13%), refrigerators (12%), desktop CPUs (7%), air conditioners, speakers, and washing machines (6% each) and printers (5%).

    Of the UEEE imported inside “roll-on/roll-off” used vehicles (so-called because they are driven onto and off the ships), almost all (98%) came from EU member states.  The UEEE imported in containers predominantly originated from ports in the EU (29%), China (24%), and the USA (20%).

    Overall, around 77% of Nigeria’s UEEE imports originated from ports in the EU, mainly from Germany and the United Kingdom (around 20% each), followed, by Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, and Ireland. China and the USA each account for about 7% of the total imports.

    The report notes that while some of the devices can be repaired in Nigeria, exporting non-functional UEEE to (and importing it into) Nigeria is illegal under the Basel Convention.

    The study found, however, that none of the illegal shipments resulted in consequences for the exporters or importers.

    The report, which concludes the first-ever, long-term study of containers and vehicles in a known destination country for UEEE, was conducted  in two Nigerian ports in Lagos under the Person in the Port (PiP) project implemented by the Basel Convention Coordination Centre for the Africa Region (BCCC-Africa) and the United Nations University (UNU) as part of the Solving the E-waste Problem (Step) Initiative. The project was co-funded in part  by the US Environment Protection Agency (US EPA), and by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).

    For more, see today’s press release.