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ITU says new standards in power systems manufacture can cut 300,000 tonnes of e-waste

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The United Nations ICT agency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says it has found that new standards in the manufacture of power supply systems could eliminate 300,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.

According to the agency, a new ITU-Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) report reveals that standards for the manufacture of external power supplies (EPS) could enhance their reliability and extend their lifecycle while decreasing their average weight by up to 30 per cent.

“This could eliminate 300,000 tonnes of e-waste annually,” it estimates.

E-waste has become a major global environmental and public health menace and Ghana is suffering the scourge as well.

It is known that 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated in the world annually and a great amount of that ends up in developing countries including Ghana.

An assessment report of the e-waste situation in Ghana  released in March 2011 found that 171,000 tons of e-waste reaches the country’s informal recycling sector.

The report says about 30% of the imports of electrical and electronics items into Ghana comprised of new products and 70% second hand. Around 15% of the second hand imports was estimated to be unsellable. The unsellable items, the report described as those that would not respond to power, are broken or outdated. It also found that a significant portion of these were destined directly to the informal recycling sector. Another 20% of the imports can be serviced (repaired/refurbished) to get them functioning, it adds.

The ITU report indicates that the amount of waste to be eliminated – “equivalent to sixty per cent of current annual EPS e-waste, would form a 300km truck-jam, every year.”

It also highlights that standardizing efficiency characteristics could reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of EPS by between 25 and 50 per cent.

The report noted that roughly four billion EPS are produced each year, weighing roughly a million tonnes and resulting in 500,000 tonnes of e-waste, pointing to an urgent need for standards to correct glaring inefficiencies in the EPS production process.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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