Africa Discusses E-waste at COP8


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NAIROBI, Kenya Like the EU's RoHS, China RoHS, and WEEE, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal classifies electrical and electronic waste and hazardous substances. The convention, and proposed amendments, will be discussed in the World Forum on E-waste, November 30, 2006, in Nairobi, as part of the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP8). Several African countries see imports of e-waste, for incineration or landfill disposal, increasing rapidly.

Kivutha Kibwana, minister of environment and natural resources of Kenya, will provide opening remarks; Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai will keynote the forum. Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will chair the discussions. A minister from each UN region involved, including Nigeria, Uruguay, and Finland, will speak to various aspects of the e-waste problem. Stricter waste-management regulations in countries such as China and India are pushing more e-waste into less-developed African countries, according to the BBC World Service.Two interactive sessions the first focused on challenges and the second on solutions will examine increasing international transboundary transactions in end-of-life (EOL) electrical and electronic components. Lead and cadmium, as well as metal ash from incinerated PCBs, activated glasses, and other electronic components, create negative health, environmental, and economic situations for African countries importing e-waste for landfill disposal. The BBC World Service reports that the world generates an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste annually. E-waste may be growing faster than any other municipal waste, due in part to consumer interest in short life-cycle electronic products.

Concerns regarding faulty recycling practices, illegal traffic in e-waste, communication between electronics manufacturers and recyclers, and dangerous practices such as open acid baths will form a basis for discussion during the panels and open sessions. COP8 emphasizes public/private strategic partnerships for integrated waste management, transparent import/export and disposal regulations, and technological resources. Attendees also will consider opportunities available to safely recover raw materials from PCBs, capacitors, and other e-waste elements, or reuse higher-quality obsolete electronics. More information about the Basel Convention can be found at www.basel.int.

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