New Energy and Environment Digest 新能源与环保参考

UNEP Report Urges E-Waste Action, Focuses on China

Posted in Electronic Waste, Recycling, Sustainability, Waste Management by ebalkan on February 26, 2010

A new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report – Recycling – from E-waste to Resources (pdf) –  identifies the growing problem of e-waste internationally. Includes is the finding that, by 2020, computer related e-waste will be four times 2007 levels. More noteworthy still, is that developing countries – namely, India and China – will be the largest depositories for e-waste.

Whereas previous streams of e-waste originated from abroad, often imported under dubious conditions, the growing trend in China is domestically-generated e-waste, as NEEDigest has reported previously. This pattern matches with growing personal wealth and availability of cheap electronic goods and appliances: two factors combining to produce a culture of disposibility previously absent in China.

In the short-term, government policies may be exacerbating this trend. A small appliance-aimed “cash for clunkers”-type program launched in the fall has reportedly resulted in the disposal – and collection – of 2.39 million used home appliances, including televisions, PCs, refrigerators, washing machines, and air-conditioners within only a few months. But, as the UN report alludes and Shanghai Scrap’s Adam Minter has correctly pointed out, “China doesn’t yet have sufficient environmentally-secure capacity for recycling such a large quantity of used appliances.”

But, before we dive into that, let’s get back to the UN report.

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