Electronic waste by country

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Electronic waste is often exported to developing countries

Electronic waste has become a significant part of the waste stream. Efforts are being made to recycle and reduce this waste.

Basel Convention[edit]

Nations that have signed and ratified the Basel Convention, along with nations that have signed but have not ratified the agreement.
Main article: Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, usually known simply as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.

Of the 172 parties to the Convention, Afghanistan, Haiti, and the United States have signed the Convention but have not yet ratified it.

Government regulation[edit]

Scavengers in São Paulo, Brazil with e-waste in the form of computers
For more details on this topic, see Waste legislation.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) tends to support the repair and recycling trade. Mining to produce the same metals, to meet demand for finished products in the west, also occurs in the same countries, and UNCTAD has recommended that restrictions against recycling exports be balanced against the environmental costs of recovering those materials from mining. Hard rock mining produces 45% of all toxins produced by all industries in the United States.[1]

Greenpeace contends that residue problems are so significant that the exports of all used electronics should be banned.[2]

South Africa[edit]

The e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA)[3] was established in 2008 to manage the establishment of a sustainable environmentally sound e-waste management system for the country. Since then the non-profit organization has been working with manufacturers, vendors and distributors of electronic and electrical goods and e-waste handlers (including re-furbishers, dismantlers and recyclers) to manage e-waste effectively.

Asia[edit]

Many Asian countries have legislated, or will do so, for electronic waste recycling.

South Korea, Japan and Taiwan ensure manufacturer responsibility by demanding that they recycle 75% of their annual production.[4]

China[edit]

Chinese laws are primarily concerned with eliminating the import of e-waste. China has ratified the Basel Convention as well as the Basel Ban Amendment, officially banning the import of e-waste.[5] In October 2008, The Chinese State Council also approved a “draft regulation on the management of electronic waste.”[5] This regulation is intended to promote the continued use of resources through recycling and to monitor the end-of-life treatment of electronics. Under the new regulations, recycling of electronics by the consumer is mandated. It also requires the recycling of unnecessary materials discarded in the manufacturing process.[6]

Japan[edit]

Europe[edit]

Some European countries implemented laws prohibiting the disposal of electronic waste in landfills in the 1990s. "This created an e-waste processing industry in Europe.”

In Switzerland, the first electronic waste recycling system was implemented in 1991, beginning with collection of old refrigerators. Over the years, all other electric and electronic devices were gradually been included in the system. Legislation followed in 1998, and since January 2005 it has been possible to return all electronic waste to the sales points and other collection points free of charge. There are two established producer responsibility organizations: SWICO, mainly handling information, communication, and organization technology, and SENS, responsible for electrical appliances. The total amount of recycled electronic waste exceeds 10 kg per capita per year.[7]

Additionally, the European Union has implemented several directives and regulations that place the responsibility for “recovery, reuse and recycling” on the manufacturer.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive), as it is often referred to, has now been transposed in national laws in all member countries of the European Union. It was designed to make equipment manufacturers financially or physically responsible for their equipment at the end of its life, under a policy known as Extended producer responsibility (EPR). "Users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should have the possibility of returning WEEE at least free of charge",[8] and manufacturers must dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner, by ecological disposal, reuse, or refurbishment. EPR is seen as a useful policy as it internalizes the end-of-life costs and provided a competitive incentive for companies to design equipment with fewer costs and liabilities when it reached its end of life.[9] However, the application of the WEEE Directive has been criticized for implementing the EPR concept in a collective manner, and thereby losing the competitive incentive of individual manufacturers to be rewarded for their green design.[32] Since August 13, 2005, electronics manufacturers have become financially responsible for compliance to the WEEE Directive. Under the directive, each country recycles at least 4 kg of electronic waste per capita per year. Furthermore, the Directive should “decrease e-waste and e-waste exports.”.[10] In December 2008 a draft revision to the Directive proposed a market-based goal of 65%, which is 22 kg per capita in the case of the United Kingdom.[11] A decision on the proposed revisions could result in a new WEEE Directive by 2012.

The Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (2002/95/EC),[12] commonly referred to as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS Directive), was also adopted in February 2003 by the European Union. The RoHS Directive took effect on July 1, 2006, and is required to be enforced and become law in each member state. This directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment.

The Battery Directive enacted in 2006 regulates the manufacture, disposal and trade of batteries in the European Union.[13]

North America[edit]

Canada[edit]

In February 2004, a fee similar to the one in California was added to the cost of purchasing new televisions, computers, and computer components in Alberta, the first of its kind in Canada.[14] Saskatchewan also implemented an electronics recycling fee in February 2007,[15] followed by British Columbia in August 2007,[16] Nova Scotia in February 2008,[17] and Ontario in April 2009.[18] In 2007, Manitoba issued the Proposed Electrical and Electronic Equipment Stewardship Regulation by which the sale of regulated products is forbidden unless covered by the stewardship program. "Products covered under this legislation include TVs, computers, laptops, and scanners."[19] Recycling regulation passed in Ontario in October 2004, requires producers to "either develop product stewardship plans or comply with a product stewardship program for specific products."[20]

Canadian Federal legislation The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR) operates with a few basic premises, one of which being that electronic waste is either "intact" or "not intact". The various annexes define hazardous waste in Canada, and also deem any waste that is "...considered or defined as hazardous under the legislation of the country receiving it and is prohibited by that country from being imported or conveyed in transit" to be covered under Canadian regulation and therefor subject to prior informed consent procedures.[21][22]

The loophole in the regulations that allows tons of e-waste to be exported from Canada is the use of the definition of "intact" vs "functional". A non-functioning electronic device that is intact can be exported under the current legislation. What can't be exported is a non-functioning but no longer intact electronic device. The principal problem being, the non-functioning electronic device is at high risk of being disassembled in some far away e-waste dumping ground. The Canadian government's use of a unique interpretation of the Basel Convention obligations "intact" and "not intact" opens the door to uncontrolled e-waste exports as long as the device is intact. See Canadian fact sheet and associated links.[23]

Since Canada ratified the Basel Convention on August 28, 1992, and as of August 2011, Environment Canada's Enforcement Branch has initiated 176 investigations for violations under EIHWHRMR, some of which are still in progress. There have been 19 prosecutions undertaken for non-compliance with the provisions of the EIHWHRMR some of which are still before the courts.

United States[edit]

Oceania[edit]

Australia[edit]

Electronic waste has been on the agenda of the Australian Federal Government since the mid-1990s. The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (now replaced by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC)) was the first body to identify electrical and electronic waste as a concern. In 2002, the EPHC again declared that e-waste needed action. The Electrical Equipment Product Stewardship Sub-Group examined the issue and decided that computer and television waste were 'wastes of concern'. Since that time the television and computer industry has been working with the EPHC to identify a suitable way to manage end-of-life televisions and computers.

In November 2008 the EPHC committed to the development of a national solution to the issue of managing television and computer waste.[24] This action culminated in the release of a package of documents designed to enable public consultation on the various options for managing end-of-life televisions and computers on 16 July 2009.[25] The main document in the package is the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement: Televisions and Computers. The paper canvasses various options for managing end-of-life units and analyses the costs and benefits of each. The Consultation Paper does not have a preferred option. The preferred option will be developed by government through the public consultation process prior to the next meeting of the EPHC on 5 November 2009 in Perth where State and Federal Minister will adopt a position.[26]

A series of public meetings were held in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne to receive feedback to the government's proposals. The meetings occurred in late July and early August 2009.

However, after the analog TV switch off, no plan seemed agreed on, and most analog TV's ended up in bins or discarded on the sidewalk. Many such tv's had the copper deflection coils removed by unknown persons while sitting on streets, presumably for copper's recycle price. As such it appears Australia is interested in talking about environmental issues, but not committed to a solution if there are no business advantages to it.

Product stewardship

Product Stewardship Australia (PSA)[27] is a not-for-profit organisation established by the television industry to lead the way in developing recycling programs for e-waste in Australia, particularly televisions. PSA works closely with both state and federal governments along with other industry associations to advance product stewardship in Australia. PSA has contributed to the development of the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement on Televisions and Computers.[citation needed]

New Zealand[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "2001 US EPA Toxics Release Inventory". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2008-02-08. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Where does all the e-waste go?". Greenpeace International. 
  3. ^ "eWASA". 
  4. ^ "Electronics and Electronic Recycling UK". 
  5. ^ a b "Legislating e-waste management: progress from various countries". 
  6. ^ "China approves e-waste regulation – systems proposed, penalties established". 
  7. ^ "Umwelt Schweiz". Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  8. ^ "What is WEEE and why should you care?". Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  9. ^ "Lost In Transposition?". Greenpeace Report. Greenpeace International. 2006-09-27. 
  10. ^ "E-waste Regulations". Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  11. ^ Letsrecycle.com
  12. ^ "Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment". 
  13. ^ "Battery Directive". Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  14. ^ "Electronics recycling fee begins in Alberta". CBC News. 2005-02-01. 
  15. ^ "Sask. to start e-recycling, fees in February". CBC News. 2006-12-04. 
  16. ^ "Recycling fees coming for electronics". 
  17. ^ "Electronics recycling fee takes effect Feb. 1". CBC News. 2008-01-28. 
  18. ^ "Ontario plans electronics recycling fee". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  19. ^ Feszty, Katalin. "Canada moves to WEEE compliance". 
  20. ^ Feszty, Katalin (2007-02-19). "Canada moves to WEEE compliance". Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  21. ^ "Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations". Laws-lois.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  22. ^ "Environment Canada - Pollution and Waste - Basel Convention". Ec.gc.ca. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ EPHC.gov.au
  25. ^ "Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement: Televisions and Computers and Associated Documents"
  26. ^ "EPHC Communique 22 May 2009"
  27. ^ Product Stewardship Australia

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Organizations