Thursday, 13 July 2017

New global partnership aids countries to tackle increasing e-waste challenges

While digital and tech devices become more available globally, especially in Nigeria where the demand is so high,  their responsible disposal appears a big  challenge for many countries. In response to this, the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technology, ICT,  has partnered with the United Nations University, UNU, and  Solid Waste Association , ISWA, to ensure responsible management of fast growing  e-waste around the world.
Through its work, the partnership is expected to identify best practices of global e-waste management and further identify recycling opportunities. To expand its scope and accelerate progress, the partnership is also seeking to engage with other public and private partners interested in addressing the global e-waste challenge
The main objectives of the partnership are to improve and collect worldwide e-waste statistics. As such, the 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.

In addition to the increased production of electrical and electronic equipment worldwide, is the increased pace at which new technologies are being developed. As a result, the amount of electronic waste, or e-waste, is growing rapidly. Used, broken, or obsolete equipment, such as mobile phones, laptops, televisions and batteries contain substances that pose considerable environmental and health risks, especially if not disposed of properly. Most e-waste is not properly documented and not treated through appropriate recycling chains and methods. 
According to the United Nations Environment Program report Waste Crimes, up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are expected to be dumped in 2017. This represents a 20 per cent increase from 2015. 
Measuring e-waste is an important step towards addressing the e-waste challenge. Statistics help to evaluate developments over time, set and assess targets, and identify best practices of policies. Better e-waste data will help to minimize its generation, prevent illegal dumping, promote recycling, and create jobs in the reuse, refurbishment and recycling sectors. In so doing, this will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG12, to "ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns". 
"ITU has a track record of providing the world with the most reliable and trustworthy ICT-related data,"  ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao., said, adding that, "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.

"Better statistics will inform policy making to minimize the generation of e-waste, prevent illegal dumping, promote recycling and create valuable jobs in the reuse, refurbishment and recycling sectors,"  Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, said, adding that,  "This will also contribute to achievement of SDG12, which seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns," he added.

By Emeka Aginam

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