Davos report calls for international efforts to deal with e-waste worth $62.5b

E-waste in Ghana

The world has been grappling with an e-waste problem for some time now, because of the speed of technology. E-waste contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment, but the volume of e-waste discarded around the world each year, which is approximately 50 million tonnes is worth $62.5billion.

A report issued at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is calling for concerted international efforts to address the e-waste problem. A press release from the WEF copied to ghanabusinessnews.com says seven UN entities supported by the WEF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development are calling for an overhaul of the current electronics system, with an objective of supporting international efforts to deal with the e-waste problem.

The E-waste Coalition, includes: The International Labour Organization (ILO); International Telecommunication Union (ITU); United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); United Nations University (UNU), and the Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions (BRS).

The report, “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot,” launched in Davos 24 January, 2019 says technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), support gradual “dematerialization” of the electronics industry.

It calls for a systematic collaboration with major brands, small and medium-sized enterprises, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a deliberative process to reorient the system and reduce the waste of resources each year with a value greater than the GDP of most countries.

“Each year, approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) are discarded — the weight of more than all commercial airliners ever made. In terms of material value, this is worth $62.5 billion — more than the GDP of most countries,” said.

It stated that less than 20 per cent of this is recycled formally, adding that informally, millions of people worldwide (over 600,000 in China alone) work to dispose of e-waste, much of it done in working conditions harmful to both health and the environment.

According to the report material efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials to meet the needs of electronics supply chains will all be essential for future production, adding that if the electronics sector is supported with the right policy mix and managed in the right way, it could lead to the creation of millions of decent jobs worldwide.

It further calls for collaboration with multinationals, SMEs, entrepreneurs, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations to create a circular economy for electronics where waste is designed out, the environmental impact is reduced and decent work is created for millions.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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