Worried by the negative impact of disposing of expired naira notes through burning on the environment, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, disclosed Tuesday that it has set aside a total sum of N500 million for the recycling of old banknotes and other hazardous electronic materials that constitute environmental hazards.
The apex bank explained that the effort was geared towards making sure that activities of the financial sector do not negatively impact on the environment and human health.
Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr, Mrs Aisha Usman Mahmood who spoke at the inception of the strategic action plan for safe use, disposal and recycling of expired battery, said the CBN is vigorously encouraging recycling of its waste products.
The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), European Union, GIZ, UNIDO, Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) and other stakeholders.
She added that CBN is taking the lead on setting an exemplary example for the financial institution to follow to align with the attainment of low carbon economy by 2030.
According to her, the development of a sustainable framework towards low carbon economy by the apex bank started in 2012, adding that CBN is mobilising PENCOM, NSE and other financial institutions to make Nigeria green economy.
“CBN has started recycling it’s waste papers to tissue papers for IDPs and schools, while polymer banknotes is recycled to plastic chairs and tables for use by schoolchildren,” she said.
Dr Mahmood also disclosed the Bank is discussing with the cement manufacturing companies, including Dangote Cement Company for the purpose of recycling the old paper notes for their industrial needs.
In her remark, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, who was represented by the Director in the ministry, Mrs. Abimbola Adenuga, said the workshop is aimed at raising awareness of regulators and policymakers on the environment and health impacts of used batteries and to chart a way on its proper disposal through effective policy.
According to Odusote, the wastes generated from the use of a battery in the energy sector are huge and carelessly handled by recyclers can lead to environmental and health hazards.
She said batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, silver, nickel and lithium are known to cause fetal damage, anaemia, kidney and brain damage and even death, especially in children.
The Permanent Secretary added that Nigeria is committed to its obligations under the Basel convention on managing hazardous wastes, explaining that in cases where Nigeria does not have the local capacity, it will be exported to other countries that have the technical capacity to manage in an environmentally sound manner.
Odusote said: “Used batteries are not exported as whole entities rather they undergo some preliminary recycling in which they are broken and the lead plates are extracted and exported or melted into ingots and also exported.
“This involves the informal sector and small and medium scale enterprises whose unregulated activities lead to environmental pollution such as surface and underground water contamination, air pollution, soil contamination and lead poisoning.”
She added that it is against this background that the ministry and GIZ are developing a national policy and guidelines for environmentally sound management of used batteries in Nigeria.