UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). 2008. Bali Declaration on Waste Management for Human Health and Livelihood. Ninth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 23–27 June 2008, Bali, Indonesia. United Nations Environment Programme. Available: [accessed 25 July 2014].
International researchers, public health practitioners, and policy makers have touched on ways to employ actionable solutions. The , working with an international group of nearly 20 people, developed a training package for health care providers to improve diagnosis, prevention, and management of childhood diseases linked to environmental exposures. Human-centered design is another engagement approach that can be used to create strategies that meet people’s desire for change and produce solutions that are technically and organizationally feasible as well as financially viable. These and other methods could be adopted by organizations investigating and addressing e-waste problems.
Many European nations have not only passed EPR laws to increase reuse and recycling of plastics but also are diverting plastics to power plants for use as fuel for heat and electricity (a process called waste-to-energy, or WTE). In Europe, an estimated 25.2 million metric tons of post-consumer plastic was discarded in 2012, according to the manufacturers association PlasticsEurope. Of that amount, 26% was recycled, 36% was recovered for fuel, and 38% went to landfills. In 2012 the United States produced approximately 29 million metric tons of post-consumer plastic waste but recycled only 9% of it and used perhaps 16% for fuel.
“A Zero Waste System is cyclical, like in nature, and does two fundamental things: It redesigns our systems and resource use—from product design to disposal—to prevent wasteful and polluting practices that lead to those 87 cans of waste. It then captures discards and uses them, instead of natural resources, to make new products, creating far less pollution and feeding the local economy.”
Ideally, the collection of electrical and electronic products is a sustainable process that maximizes recycling to retain valuable e-waste components in the economy and safely disposes of dangerous components (). Efforts are underway to move toward a more sustainable process such as better control of the transboundary movements of e-waste. Additionally, the StEP Initiative, a coordinated global effort, brings expertise to meet the social, political, economic, and environmental challenges of extracting valuable resources from e-waste. Some low- and middle-income countries, including Nigeria and Egypt, are working toward increased regulation or accountability for used EEE (). For instance, in Egypt the importation of working EEE > 5 years old is banned (). Even after corrective actions are implemented for legal EEE movement, sustainable product design, and proper recycling practices, legacy environmental problems from amassed e-waste will remain. Moreover, in the interim, basic economics drives the e-waste business by fostering maximization of profits without safe treatment and disposal of hazardous parts.
IPCC, 2007. Bogner, J., M. Abdelrafie Ahmed, C. Diaz, A. Faaij, Q. Gao, S. Hashimoto, K. Mareckova, R. Pipatti, T. Zhang, Waste Management, In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [B. Metz, O.R. Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave, L.A. Meyer (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Retrieved 2nd of November from:
Bali Declaration. Adopted in 2008, the Bali Declaration on Waste Management for Human Health and Livelihood affirmed that poorly managed waste may have serious consequences for the environment, human health, and sustainable livelihood. It called for strengthened political cooperation to increase capacity building and to promote and enhance public and private investment for safe and environmentally careful waste management technology ().
Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative. Officially launched in 2007, the StEP Initiative strives to lead global management and development of environmentally, economically, and ethically sound e-waste recovery, re-use, and prevention. It facilitates research, analysis, and dialogue among representatives from industry, international organizations, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions. ().
Smith, A., K. Brown, S. Ogilvie, K. Rushton, and J. Bates, 2001: Wastemanagement options and climate change. Final Report ED21158R4.1 to the European Commission, DG Environment, AEA Technology, Oxfordshire, 205 pp. retrieved 2nd of November from:
IEA, 2010. Energy Technology Perspectives 2010: Scenarios and Strategies to 2050. International Energy Agency. Paris, France. Retrieved 2nd of November 2010 from:
Pimenteira, C. A., Pereira, A.S., Oliveira, L.B., Rosa, L.P., Reis, M.M., Henriques, R.M., 2004. Energy conservation and CO2 emission reductions due to recycling in Brazil. Waste Management 24 (2004) pp. 889-897.
Basel Convention. Negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and entered into force in 1992, the convention regulates the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous and other wastes. Its overarching objective is to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes (). Under the Basel terms, based on the concept of prior informed consent, an export may proceed only with written consent by the country of import. However, the terms are difficult to monitor because reliable data are not available regarding the amount of exported EEE that is accurately classified as e-waste.
When looking at the CDM project , there are few project activities that involve some form of waste recovery or recycling. Waste related projects in de pipeline include waste-to-energy projects by means of or or methane capture at landfill sites. Other CDM project activities relate to the use of either biomass from virgin sources or secondary biomass waste streams, generally for the production of bio-energy. The associated methodologies of these waste management technologies/processes can be used for quantifying the GHG-impact. Standard methods or protocols for quantifying the GHG-impact of recycling projects and practices are scarcer, although they almost by no exception follow the guiding principles of a life cycle assessment ().
International coordination and collaboration efforts. The e-waste problem has been building for decades. The transboundary shipment and disposal of hazardous wastes attracted attention in the 1980s when some industrialized countries indiscriminately sought less expensive disposal of their hazardous wastes abroad (; ), resulting in the Basel Convention (). Subsequently, environmental threats to susceptible populations were considered by international groups over the years. Although not all efforts described here specifically addressed e-waste, in total the activities show progress toward addressing current e-waste problems. Briefly described in chronological order, this compilation of international efforts leads to our suggested next steps to build on existing efforts to reduce or prevent harm from e-waste exposures.