UNEP Urges Proper Electronic Waste Disposal

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a report called “Recycling from E-waste to Resource” in a meeting in Bali, indonesia on the Basel Convention urging developing economies to prevent dumping of e-waste from develop countries that threaten human health and the environment.

The dillemma of globally increasing e-waste makes developing economies vulnerable to dumping as the cost of treatment of these products before disposal to the environment is high. But “unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials, many developing countries face the specter of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health” UNEP warned.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner told a press briefing that while the growth of e-waste makes the situation appears bleak, eliminating dumping of e-waste in poorer countries and helping them obtain recycling capabilities is not hapless.

“In addition to curbing health problems, boosting developing countries e-waste recycling rates can have the potential to generate decent employment, cut greenhouse gas emissions and recover a wide range of valuable metals including silver, gold, palladium, copper and indium, by acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity”, Steiner said in a press briefing in Bali, Indonesia.

The report indicated e-waste from desk and laptop computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions is growing by 40 million metric tons per year.

“Globally, more than 1 billion mobile phones were sold in 2007, up from 896 million in 2006. In the US, more than 150 million mobiles and pagers in 2008, up from 90 million five years before. Countries like Senegal and Uganda can expect e-waste flows from personal computers alone to increase from four to eight fold by 2020”, said the report.