How to End All eWaste

As previously posted it is certain that every one of the six billion mobile phones produced so far will need to be recycled, along with the 2.6 billion radios, two billion TVs and over a billion computers. The list of electrical and electronic equipment in use goes on and on…….

Every country on earth is consuming many millions of items of electrical and electronic equipment but almost none have put in place effective end-of-life solutions. This task is extremely urgent if the environment is to be protected and human health preserved.

Original equiment manufacturers (OEMs) have an ethical duty and social responsibility to deal with the environmental damage caused by their products. Within the European Union OEMs already have a legal liability and financial responsibility to fund re-use and end-of-life recycling for all Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment as dictated by the WEEE Directive of the European Parliament.

Having accepted this legal responsibility within Europe there is no moral defence for not providing the same end-of-life recycling facilities in all other countries where their products are sold inluding in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

This week Computer Aid International, an organisation that I used to be CEO of, published an excellent introductory guide for citizens concerned to move this environmental agenda forward in any country. The PDF version of “How to end all eWaste” is free to download here.

Computer Aid is just completing a project to build the advocacy capacity of civil society in three countries to lobby government to build eWaste recycling facilities with funds from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

In summary the six-point plan to end all eWaste is:

1. Ban the import and export of e-waste.
2. Ban the landfill and other dumping of e-waste.
3. Prioritise reuse over recycling as reuse is 20 times more energy-efficient.
4. Compel e-waste recycling through licensed & inspected operators.
5. Compel OEMs to fund end-of-life e-waste management.
6. Enforce it – monitor enforcement and punish environmental crime.

This is not rocket science. OEMs already fund best practice in Europe. There is no excuse for delaying provision of recycling to the same high standards in North America, Africa and the rest of our fragile planet.


About Tony Roberts

Founder & ex-CEO of co-founder & ex-Executive Director of co-founding Trustee co-Founder & Director of currently PhD student of ICT4D at University of London Gooner
This entry was posted in Africa, Computer Aid International, eWaste & GreenIT. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to How to End All eWaste

  1. Totally agree, here, in Argentina there are no policies at all. Or at least the government is not making those public. Keep the good work.


  2. Jaume Fortuny says:

    Updating this entry to the blog, read this other blog (thanks to @Liberationtech):

    Ghana Vice President John Dramani Mahama, made the call at the on-going International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Seminar on ITCs, Environment and Climate Change in Accra. The two-day seminar, which attracted specialists across the country, was to prepare participants towards the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for Durban, South Africa in 2012.

  3. Jaume Fortuny says:

    Without detracting your posts, this Youtube animation is very good and highly recommended to explain it in words and pictures 🙂

    I agree that we should go toward re-use and reducing consumption. But this should make us rethink the basis of consumerist economic model and this is the real challenge.

    Remember to Mahatma Gandhi: “There’s enough on this planet for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed”

  4. Jaume Fortuny says:

    Great post of Computer Aid International about eWaste. It is a guide to take into consideration.

    People have a very big responsibility every time that renew an electronic equipment. Do we always deplete its useful life? Or do we renew for fashion or due to the wonders of advertising?

    A reflection in depth can lead us to question whether the growing consumer society model is sustainable. Our planet is fragile and ….. limited. How many planets do we need to meet consumer demand?

    Especially in electronics, remember the direct relationship between demand, child exploitation and conflict in DR Congo for the extraction of Coltan. In this case, rather than “e-waste” should be talk about “e-xploitation of human rights”. But this is a matter for another blog post….

    • Tony Roberts says:

      Jaume thanks for your comment. The way that we currently consume and dispose of stuff is just not sustainable, something that this great YouTube animation explains far better than I ever could:

      The fact is that the wasteful OECD countries must reduce consumption; not a popular message – but nonetheless irrefutable.

      At an individual level it is cool to upgrade and re-use stuff rather than buy new stuff.

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