Agencies join forces to combat e-waste
GENEVA — In a world full of digital and high-tech devices, United Nations agencies are starting to work together to track and help deal with a soaring amount of electronic wastes worldwide, the International Telecommunication Union said on Wednesday.
As technologies change at great speed, and as access to and use of electrical and electronic equipment increases, the products’ life cycles have become shorter and many designs do not support repair or reuse. As a result, the amount of electronic waste, or e-waste, is growing rapidly.
Most e-waste has not been properly documented or treated through appropriate recycling chains and methods.
According to the UN Environment Program, up to 50 million tons of electronic waste is expected to be dumped this year, a 20 percent increase from 2015.
In light of the fact that responsible disposal of those devices remains a challenge for many countries, the ITS, the United Nations University, and the International Solid Waste Association have formed the Global e-Waste Statistics Partnership to improve and collect worldwide e-waste data.
Such partnership will support countries to produce reliable and comparable e-waste statistics, and will also deliver capacity building workshops and raise visibility on the importance of tracking and managing e-waste.
“ITS has a track record of providing the world with the most reliable and trustworthy ICC-related data,” said ITS Secretary-General Hour Zhao.
“We are pleased to be part of this partnership and to lend our expertise and our long standing experience in data collection to assist countries to track and measure their e-waste, so that responsible e-waste management can be implemented.”
Measuring e-waste is an important step toward tackling it, as the statistics help to evaluate development over time, set and assess targets, and also identify best practices of policies.
Better e-waste data also helps minimize its generation, prevent illegal dumping, promote recycling, and create jobs in reuse, refurbishment and recycling sectors, which will contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, to ensuring “sustainable consumption and production patterns”.
“Better statistics will inform policymaking to minimize the generation of e-waste, prevent illegal dumping, promote recycling and create valuable jobs in the reuse, refurbishment and recycling sectors,” said Brahma Sand, Director of ITS Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“This will also contribute to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 12, which seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns,” he added.
Amount of electronic waste expected to be dumped this year, up 20 percent from 2015.
Children play in a fountain during a heat wave in Washington, US, on Wednesday.