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Regional Workshop on WEEE / E-Waste Management, 6-9 July 2010


Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE or e-waste) such as refrigerators and TVs has gained attention as a pressing environmental issue due to its lack of proper disposal, particularly in developing countries, despite containing hazardous substances such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. Some argue that the export of second-hand household electrical appliances from developed to developing countries has exacerbated the e-waste issue, and there are calls for cross-border cooperation and sweeping measures to combat the problem.

However, the handling of e-waste differs between developing countries, with some yet to stipulate a legal definition or simply treating it as hazardous waste. Many countries have banned the import of e-waste but it is often exported illegally from developed countries as secondhand products without going through proper procedures, after which its useful metals are recovered in developing countries using improper methods. This causes a number of problems such as damage to the environment as well as human health and hygiene.

In view of this situation, UNEP/IETC in cooperation with GEC organized the “Regional Workshop on WEEE/E-waste Management” on 6-9 July 2010 to build policy capacity and discuss the current challenges of e-waste management in Asia. The workshop was attended by invited government officials from 10 Asian countries.

The sessions on days 1 and 2 of the workshop consisted of training on the e-waste definition, e-waste inventory and assessment of e-waste market, e-waste management regulatory frameworks, collection and treatment technologies, and financing mechanisms for e-waste management, as well as presentations from each country analyzing current conditions and issues.

At the sessions on day 3, various initiatives were introduced by each country’s representatives as well as a range of stakeholders involved in e-waste management including Japanese home appliance manufacturers, trading companies, universities, research organizations, and international agencies.

On the final day, the participants visited a home appliance recycling facility in the Kansai region.

One aspect of the workshop that generated considerable interest from government officials was the “take back system” gradually being adopted particularly in Southeast Asia, whereby electronic and electrical equipment manufacturers buy back end-of-life products. Participants also suggested the need to support rather than exclude the “informal sector” which is engaged in much e-waste collection and segregation, in order to improve its capacity.

The workshop reaffirmed the need for coordination extending beyond the public & private sectors in order to achieve the proper collection & treatment of e-waste. The active exchange of information between countries and international agencies that took place at the workshop has also encouraged joint project proposals.

The workshop's presentation materials & country reports are available on IETC's website at:
http://www.unep.or.jp/ietc/SPC/news-jul10.asp



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