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New report offers guidance to e-waste management in Latin America

20 May 2015|Briefing note

International collaboration yields region-specific e-waste roadmap

A study undertaken by ITU in collaboration with other international and regional organizations has concluded with the release of a report outlining the state of e-waste management in Latin America. The report offers guidance to the region on the steps to be taken towards environmentally sustainable e-waste management.

e-Waste is one of the world’s fastest-growing waste streams, with an estimated 42-million metric tons generated in 2014. Developing countries are known to bear the largest e-waste burden. Often ill-equipped to treat e-waste efficiently, these countries have first-hand experience of the adverse effects of e-waste on the environment and on the health of citizens.

The study was co-conducted by ITU; the Secretariat of the Basel Convention; the Basel Convention Regional Centre for South America (CRBAS); the World Health Organization (WHO); the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); the Organization of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“ITU’s advocacy for the benefits of information and communication technologies comes with a responsibility to improve the environmental sustainability of the ICT sector,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Our membership has given us a strong mandate to address the e-waste challenge, and ITU is well positioned to enact improvement in this arena, especially given the good collaboration that we enjoy with industry and international organizations.”

The report was launched by ITU, UNU, UNIDO, WIPO, ECLAC and CRBAS during the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions that was held in Geneva, 4-15 May 2015.

The report presents case studies based on the e-waste regulatory frameworks of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The e-waste challenges specific to these countries are analysed to identify the sustainability concerns that the region should seek to overcome in the medium to long term.

The report introduces the general principles of e-waste management, including relevant processes and technologies as well an overview of policies, strategies and regulatory frameworks that have been successful in promoting the environmentally sustainable management of e-waste in other regions of the world.

An analysis of the environmental implications of e-waste and its effects on human health identifies the factors to be considered when designing policy and regulation to govern the management of e-waste. The report describes the various stages in the lifecycle of electrical and electronic goods on course to becoming e-waste as well as the roles played by various actors at these different lifecycle stages.

The report’s principal purpose is to offer guidelines for Latin America to establish a roadmap towards environmentally sustainable e-waste management, at the regional and national levels. In this task, the report highlights the importance of implementing international technical standards, such as those developed by ITU’s Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

Download a summary in English (.ppt)

* This article was originally published by ITU.