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Addressing the dumping of E-waste

Electronic waste has been the topic of discussion at the Basel Convention held in Nairobi this week.

Opening the conference, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner spoke of the need to address the problem of the increasing amount of e-waste and its irresponsible disposal.

Referring to the recent case of hazardous waste dumped in the Cote DIvoire, Steiner said: This case of irresponsible hazardous waste dumping in one of the poorest countries on the globe serves as a reminder of the importance of the Basel Convention and the need to re-invigorate and re-new its vital regional and global role.

It also serves as a reminder that even the best laws are only as strong as the enforcement mechanisms and willingness of Governments to act.

The Basel Convention is an international convention designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations and prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.

He added that recent research had estimated that of the minimum 100,000 computers a month entering the Nigerian port of Lagos, 25-75% were estimated to be defunct effectively shipped there to dump.

Steiner also raised the issue of the importance of defining exactly what constituted waste the need to agree on what was waste and what was a second-hand product.

Unless we get to grips with this, we are always going to be like the proverbial dog chasing its tail, he said.

But he acknowledged the contribution of take-back schemes, recycling projects, and the certification of exports.

These kinds of partnerships are important steps forward. But we know there is a lot more that needs to be done.




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