Closing the Loop, a Netherlands-based Social Enterprise has achieved a big step for the global Circular Economy and for e-waste management in Nigeria. Together with their local partners Hinckley Recycling and Verde Impacto, they have legally exported a container of Lithium-Ion batteries for safe recycling in Belgium. This was the first time such a shipment has been completed legally from West Africa to Europe.

The shipment of lithium ion batteries to Belgium for treatment is necessary due to the absence of any lithium ion battery recycling facility in Africa. This action helps to fulfill the best of two worlds principle, where fractions that cannot be treated or recycled locally are exported to other countries for environmentally sound recycling.

This container shipment, which was managed by Hinckley Recycling, Nigeria’s first approved and EPRON accredited e-waste recycler, arrived in Belgium in mid-April. The batteries were collected in Nigeria as a pilot with Closing the Loop’s innovative business model by their local partner Verde Impacto. Verde Impacto worked with the informal sector for collection and have been collaborating with EPRON throughout this pilot. All parties working closely with National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to ensure the shipment met all national and international regulations including the Basel Convention on the Transboundary movement of hazardous waste made the pilot a success. This pilot has provided information and learnings that are very valuable for future projects and the development of an e-waste management system as a whole in Nigeria.

In addition to the learnings locally in Nigeria, this pilot also shows a pragmatic example of an activity that directly contributes to the ambitions that organisations such as the European Union, the United Nations and many national governments have. We hope that many more pilots like these can follow Closing the Loop’s example until local capacity in environmentally sound management of electronic waste is fully developed.