By Paul Ploumis
A new report published by the Unite Nations (UN) forecasts that global electronic waste is likely to increase to 50 million metric tons (Mt) in 2018. This is significantly higher when compared with the estimated volume of 41.8 Mt in 2014. The report titled ‘United Nations System-Wide Response to Tackling E-Waste’ outlines the efforts undertaken by the UN Environment Management Group in addressing the rising volume of e-waste across various countries. It also includes various recommendations that may result in better handling of global e-waste.
According to the report, there exist at least 14 international processes and agreements aimed at regulating electronic waste. It also notes that additional nine agreements exist in regional level. Several UN and related entities are actively involved in solving this global problem.
The report states that there has been an alarming rise in global consumption of electrical and electronic equipment. When these devices reach their end-of-life stage, a majority of them are sorted incorrectly and shipped illegally to different corners of the world, where they are treated using primitive ways. It calls for more effort to be put in the design stage of devices to ensure minimal ecological footprint at the end of their lives.
The UN Report identifies 154 prior, existing and proposed e-waste initiatives implemented through its agencies and related entities. These initiatives focus on promoting sound management of e-waste. Out of this, 63 initiatives are found to have their primary focus on recycling. A substantial proportion of the regional-focused initiatives are centered on the African and Asian regions, mainly on account of rising population and increased consumption of electronic goods when compared with other regions. On the other hand, countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region have received less attention by the UN and related entities. Also, 68 e-waste initiatives are identified to have a global reach.
The report strongly recommends the need for establishing stricter policies to ensure removal of hazardous materials from e-waste before they are transported. Further it advocates increased collaboration between public and private sectors in formulating and implementing policy actions to add value to existing programs.