As we have discussed in class, e-waste is an enormous issue within the developing world. This is why the EU set an ambitious goal for 2021: to collect 65% of the electronic equipment and lamps used globally in the past three years and recycle it. Unfortunately evidence from a scientific research project suggests that this will be impossible if governments do not add legal measures.
This project maps the e-waste flow in the Netherlands by tracking the origin and destination of electronic products. This has proven hard to handle, as there are a number of things that can happen to an electronic product once it is sold.
-Collected (by one of the two government programs)
-Recycled (by national recyclers on second-hand shops)
During the e-conference held on March 15th numerous representatives from places like the UN, Japan, and the U.S. discussed the findings of the study. From there it was concluded that more e-waste could be collected if various measures were put into place.
This article outlines various suggestions including “a registration mandate for collectors and recyclers” as well as, “mandating that local governments and small retailers hand in a certain amount of e-waste each year”. Most importantly it was suggested that all goods shipped to developing countries for reuse must be certified that they are in good working order.
Although the goal set by the UN has been criticized for being “too soft too slow” this study does suggest the goal is over ambitious without assistance from the government. Stephane Arditi stated that, “The main problem is the fact that we don’t have a proper collection system or an economic system to incentivize proper collection and treatment of e-waste.”
Clearly there is work to be done if the amount of un-recycled e-waste is to be lowered.
The original study can be viewed here