UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today reported that electronic waste is expected to grow exponentially, particularly in developing countries.
Reports say the global market of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) has grown, while the lifespan of these products has become increasingly shorter.
More of these products are ending up in rubbish dumps and recycling centers.
ITU says only 13 per cent of electronic waste is recycled, many times without safety procedures in place.
Electronic waste, which contains toxic materials used in the manufacturing process, can cause widespread damage to the environment and human health.
To counter the effect of the hazardous materials, a new United Nations agreement was formulated that seeks to diminish the damage caused by electronic waste through the collection and recycling of hazardous materials.
The agreement is seeking to introduce measures to improve the ways in which this equipment is managed.
The agreement was signed between the ITU and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention (SBC). It intends to strengthen collaboration between ICT) and environmental policymakers to address this issue.
“The ICT sector is already making significant progress in improving its environmental performance and reducing e-waste through improved best practices and standards.” -ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure
The ITU head stresses that the collaboration with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention will allow the global community to address this prevailing problem through a holistic approach, involving the recycling industry as well as environmental policy makers.
The ITU and SBC are expected to exchange information and practices and will work on joint projects to raise awareness among countries about electronic waste management.
E-waste has become a challenge for governments, businesses and communities and as a result, officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States together with experts such as Sarah Westervelt, Basel Action Network’s e-Stewardship Policy Director, met on June 21, 2011 to discuss e-waste issues and management in a public forum in North America.
The forum was organized by the Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The forum will also feature participant companies such as Dell Computers and REMSA, a Mexican electronics recycler.
By 2016 the volume of electronic waste will reach in excess of 93.5 million tons, compared with 141.5 million tons in 2011. The e-waste management market will grow from $9.15 billion to address the increase in waste volume, which has been triggered by the fast pace of technology development.
Electronic waste, e-waste, e-scrap, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) describes discarded electrical or electronic devices.