Priority actions for reducing the environmental and health impacts of growing levels of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), alongside promoting the sector’s potential for green jobs and economic development, were today agreed by representatives from 18 African states, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia.
The actions were agreed on the final day of the Pan-African Forum on E-Waste, which was held at the Nairobi headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The forum was organized by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention and UNEP, with support from the Government of Kenya, and private sector companies including Dell, HP, Nokia and Philips, the forum was the first event of its kind on the continent. It focused on long-term solutions to the rising levels of obsolete mobile phones, refrigerators, televisions and other e-products in Africa.
Increasing domestic consumption of electronic products, coupled with the ongoing import of waste electronics into Africa from other regions, means that the continent is set to generate a higher volume of e-waste than Europe by 2017.
The Pan-African Forum on E-Waste in Nairobi adopted a ‘Call to Action’, which outlines 8 priority areas to improve the environmentally-sound management of e-waste in Africa.
- Implementation and enforcement by African states of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and the Bamako Convention, which bans the import of hazardous wastes into Africa
- Development of national systems to improve the collection, recycling, transport, storage and disposal of e-waste
- National institutions to co-operate with multiple stakeholders (UN, NGOs, private sector and others) in producing e-waste assessments
- Recognition that the safe and sustainable recycling of e-waste provides an opportunity for green jobs and poverty reduction
- Awareness raising activities on environmental and health hazards linked to the unsound management of e-waste
He highlighted that global recycling rates of some e-waste metals-known as rare earth metals-can be as low as one per cent despite these metals being crucial for components in hybrid electric car batteries to the magnets in wind turbines.