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Policy prescriptions for ending e-waste - Anja ffrench, Computer Aid International
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Policy prescriptions for ending e-waste - Anja ffrench, Computer Aid International


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  • 1. Policy prescriptions for ending e-waste
    • Anja ffrench
    • Director of Marketing and Communications
    • Computer Aid International
  • 2. Some e-waste statistics
    • 20 billion items of electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) are in use globally
    • Globally 50 million tonnes of e-waste generated each year (UNEP)
    • In 2009, just 13% of the 50 million tonnes produced e-waste was recycled.
    • 200 million computers and 500 million mobile phones reached their end of life in 2008 alone (UN)
  • 3. The industry of electronics
    • Short lifecycles and rapid obsolescence resulting in waste being generated at a rapid rate, much of which ends up in a landfill.
    • Poor design of equipment means upgrading is often difficult and costly making simply replacing working equipment a more viable option.
    • E-waste is one of the greatest challenges facing the electronics industry due to its impacts on the environment and human health as well as the sheer scale of the problem.
    • The need to reduce, reuse and recycle is becoming an ever more apparent issue.
  • 4. E-waste - valuable and toxic
    • E-waste contains gold, silver and
    • platinum – for example more gold can be
    • recovered from one tonne of end-of-life PCs than from 17 tonnes of gold ore
    • E-waste also contains lead,
    • mercury and arsenic, making it 'toxic' waste
    • If not treated properly it can been extremely
    • dangerous to both human health and the
    • Environment
    • Image ©[2006] Basel Action Network (BAN)
  • 5. What can be done about e-waste
    • We can all help to put an end to e-waste
    • The solutions need to be delivered by society as a whole – including and especially producers, consumers and governments
    • Consumers
      • Buy less and buy green – avoid replacing functional equipment simply to have the latest model. When a new device is needed, buy from greener manufacturers
      • Give back – goods to electronics producers for safe and environmentally friendly reuse and recycling
  • 6. What producers must do
    • Producers
      • Producers must take responsibility for their products over their whole lifecycle, so they can design better products that last longer and that don't cause hazards at end-of-life. They must:
      • Make cleaner products – use fewer toxics and materials overall; use more reused components and recycled content
      • Make longer-lasting products – make repair, upgrade and reuse (and eventual end-of-life recycling) simpler
      • Take back their products for reuse and safe recycling
  • 7. What governments must do
    • Governments have a big role to play:
    • need to develop policies and laws that regulate behaviour and encourage best practice in electronics design, manufacture and use and e-waste management.
    • Ban the import and export of e-waste
    • Ban landfill and other dumping of e-waste
    • Prioritise reuse over recycling for functional equipment
    • Compel e-waste recycling
    • Enact producer responsibility to fund e-waste management and promote ecodesign
    • Enforce it – monitor actors, punish criminal activity
  • 8. Ban the import and export of e-waste
    • As e-waste is toxic, it needs careful treatment. Governments need to put bans bans in place on the import and export of e-waste to protect communities and the environment
    • As e-waste has many valuable resources within it, exporting it means a loss of those resources to the recycling industry in the country of export
    • Each country should sign up to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
    • Countries with a ban in place on the export of e-waste will need to ensure that they build and sustain domestic capacity to deal with their own e-waste
  • 9. Ban landfill and other dumping of e-waste
    • Governments must not let e-waste go to the landfill. Functional equipment should be reused; all e-waste should be recycled.
    • Sending e-waste to landfill pollutes the soil, water and air
    • Valuable resources are lost
  • 10. Prioritise reuse over recycling for functional equipment
    • It is more environmentally beneficial to reuse rather then recycle
    • ICTs are energy and materially intensive to produce, and contain substances that are hazardous, valuable or both. Reusing IT makes resource and environmental sense.
    • Reusing working computers is up to 20 times more energy efficient than recycling them. Also, reuse lowers ICT resource depletion costs far more than recycling. Thus, the waste hierarchy equally applies to unwanted ICTs as other wastes.
    • Refurbished electronic products are usually less expensive than new ones, thus reuse can enable access to technology for those that would otherwise be unable to afford it.
  • 11. Compel e-waste recycling
    • E-waste once it reaches it true end-of-life must be sent to legitimate, licensed operators
    • Recycling, using appropriate handling techniques, can help avoid hazardous emissions whilst recovering valuable materials, and may reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with production of new equipment and mining
    • Recycling all e-waste within your own country helps the recycling industry and creates more employment
  • 12. Enact producer responsibility to fund e-waste management and promote ecodesign
    • An e-waste system must be free and convenient for consumers to use
      • Producers must be individually responsible for the full end-of-life costs of their goods to incentivise ecodesign and develop domestic recycling markets.
      • Hazardous substances bans need to be in place, to make electronics manufacturers reduce and eventually eliminate the use of toxics in electronics
      • Ambitious collection and recovery targets, to keep e-waste out of landfill and to incentivise the development of a convenient and effective e-waste management system
  • 13. Enforce it – monitor actors, punish criminal activity
    • Public education and communication is needed, to ensure all actors know their role and responsibilities and to encourage high participation, compliance and best practice.
    • Government will then need to ensure that they have enough resources to effectively monitor and police the system
    • There needs to be strong penalties in place for those that break the law
  • 14. Any questions?
    • [email_address]